When was the last time that you said something to someone that made you absolutely cringe as the words came out of your mouth whether in the heat of the moment, passion, anger, or in general conversation? When was the last time someone said something to you that made you recoil and urged you to walk—perhaps even run away? There are many times that even the best and brightest who are deeply admired and respected have similar experiences of slipping up or being made to feel uncomfortable. This is because it’s part of being human—we are not immune to error and we are bound to get hurt and hurt others. It’s how we have learned to cope and handle ourselves with reserve and grace that allows for a more gentle experience when external factors can be harsh.
Too many times we are put in a position of being people pleasers, caring too much about what others think of us, bending over backwards for those who won’t even budge one step forward, and feeling pressured to do something that goes against your better judgment. This all stems from the fear of being disliked, disrespected, or rejected if we don’t perform, give, or act based upon someone else’s or society’s standards that are not our own. Perhaps we may even want to avoid awkward conversations, confrontations, and full blown arguments so in turn, we end up sacrificing ourselves to appease others.
Of course there are justifiable moments of putting extra hours in at work when warranted upon a boss’ request or finishing a deadline that may cut into the weekend plans. We also can make choices and tell the difference when we openly give to our loved ones and others from our hearts with ease rather than being forced to do so. But in order to self-preserve, find equilibrium, and commit to people and things that we can truly give wholeheartedly, we can allow ourselves to become more selective with our time, abilities, and talents. Although at first it may be difficult to set personal boundaries and limits as it could leave us feeling guilty or somehow as if we’re failing someone or a specific task, it’s actually the opposite. By setting these limits creates a safe space that you inhabit while functioning within the external world. It gives strength, character, and decisiveness to our beings and helps us clarify our self worth internally and in the presence of others.
When we decide to open these boundaries within in reason, we can function at our best in the company of those who we believe want well for us and who deserve our time and energy as they do ours. It’s solely our job to decide if the relationships and circumstances of our lives are adding to our experience in a positive way or draining us by causing more harm than good. Once we make such evaluations, it further affords us with sincere expressions of integrity.
Although coming from a place of “yes” is admirable, shows responsibility, and signifies an openness to try new things, engage with others, and continue to expand and grow, it also can be said with reserve and chosen wisely. My mother every so often reminds me that if there is something I can’t do or don’t want to do because it’s infringing on my well being, it’s better to be honest and upfront with myself and others—by saying “no”. Delivery is everything. Authentically declining what is being asked with tact and sensitivity goes a long way. But other times, a forceful “no” is needed to take ownership and a stand against something or someone who is insistent and not respecting the decision at hand.
By saying “no” in the long run can save us from a lot of heartache and regret whether quickly dating/committing to someone that deep down inside doesn’t feel right or accepting a job that is truly not field related. Faking it can only go so far. By moving into a home that is beyond repair yet the seller/landlord convinces otherwise or pacifying a child’s tantrum by giving into what it wants, doesn’t put us in the role of being a mindful adult in charge, but shows passiveness and self-disregard. Saying “no” to external sources that aren’t benefiting us really allows us to say “yes” to ourselves and preserves our dignity in all areas of our lives.