We can finally see the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.
In many ways there is an overwhelming feeling of joy as we're reuniting with friends and family, returning to a sense of "normalcy."
But in the private conversations I've been having with clients, I've been hearing and feeling a bit of trepidation about returning to "the way things used to be."
Many people realized during their time alone in the midst of the pandemic that they had become overworked, overwhelmed, over-committed to others and had lost touch with themselves.
With a forced pause, we were able to remember who we were and get back in touch with parts of ourselves we thought we'd lost or we discovered parts of ourselves that we never knew.
Boundaries have never been an easy topic for people. We're often afraid of hurting people or disappointing people, we like to avoid "confrontation", we get validated and affirmed when we say "yes".
Now after almost a year and a half of being isolated or at least having a "legitimate excuse" to decline invitations and obligations, many people are feeling like they HAVE TO say "yes" to invites and requests from others.
Below I'm sharing 10 reasons why you might want to embrace saying "no" as we transition into this new season of life.
Reason #1: No Protects You from Burnout
If the U.S. had a predominant state of being prior to the pandemic, I would have classified it as a being in a perpetual state of burnout.
When you say yes to everything and everyone else, you end up having to say no to your own needs and wants.
That means your priorities end up falling to the bottom of the list. If this happens continually, eventually you’ll start feeling resentful, grumpy, and tired.
Reason #2: No Earns Respect
People don't really respect a pushover they can bully. They might like a pushover, and they may enjoy getting you to do things for them (especially if these are their tasks to begin with). But they don't actually respect and admire you.
A funny thing happens when you say no, you earn the respect of those around you. They recognize that you have your priorities and your values. That instantly makes them admire you. They’re less likely to try to intimidate you or push you around.
Reason #3: No Lets You Focus on what you value
When you say no, there's space to focus on what you actually value.
If you constantly agree to helping on twelve different committees, then you’re saying no to spending more time with your partner, spending time with friends, working on a hobby that loves you.
Now if what you value is intimacy with your partner, time with your friends, investing time in your hobby, then you’re saying “no” to your values.
This creates a situation that is upsetting and painful. It means that you're not living out what you want. You're not walking in your values. As a result, you can feel inauthentic and bitter.
Reason #4: No Creates Space for Others
It's tempting to think that everything must be done by you. But in reality, you can't handle every request that comes your way and you're probably not the best person for every job. When you try to do it all, not only do you end up feeling bitter and resentful, you take opportunities from others.
Maybe a friend asks you to design her poster for her upcoming cafe opening. You're tempted to say yes, but then you think about your friend - let's call her "Beth", who is getting started in graphic design and would absolutely love to do a project like this. Now, you can step in and say yes because you fear saying no, and be stressed out and angry.
Or you can suggest Beth instead and let Beth stand in the spotlight. Not only will you have less to do, but Beth is going to be happier and your friend is going to be happier.
Reason #5: No Protects Your Energy
Women in today’s society are often encouraged to wear a “superhero” cape all the time. They’re expected to be everything to everyone and do it all with a smile and a good attitude.
But what you have to remember is that you have a limited flow of energy. This means that when you encounter things that will drain your energy, you need to stand up for yourself and firmly say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I can't do this.”
Perhaps you could recommend another person for this task or suggest an alternative. You could also simply say, “I appreciate you thinking of me, but this doesn't sound like a great fit for me right now.”
Keep in mind that just because you overcommit does not mean you will magically gain the energy, the strength, the stamina, or the time you need to accomplish everything.
Reason #6: No Adds Margin into Your Days
When you are constantly overcommitted, there is no margin in your life.
For example, if you plan back-to-back meetings all day, with no margin, then by the time you hit the end of the day, you're hungry. You're stressed out. You’re feeling exhausted or irritated because you’re overworked.
But when you say no, you create that margin your mind and body desperately need. When you don't commit to every meeting or every project, you can show up and bring your best self, best energy, and best focus.
Reason #7: No Gives You Confidence
The reason so many women say yes is they want to be liked. But when you realize you can live (believe me, you can) without the approval and validation of others, it's freeing.
Suddenly, your whole world opens up. You don't have to spend your evenings going to the book club if you hate the book club. You don't have to take every call from your cousin who just wants to complain about her ex again.
You no longer have to work for everyone's approval. The moment that you realize this—the moment you realize that you can say no and still have people like you—you become liberated.
Reason #8: No Makes Room for Self-Care
It’s common, for women to feel like they must always be busy and always be productive. This leaves you very little time or even no time for self-care most days. But when you say “no” to what doesn’t matter, you’re making room for self-care.
Your self-care can look like anything you want it to. Maybe self-care for you is spending one night a week at home to read a book in a bubble bath. Or perhaps it means that you have time to take your kids out for a walk after dinner every night. Maybe that makes you really happy and that's self-care for you.
As you say “no” more, embrace taking care of yourself. When you’re a priority, amazing things start happening. You show up to events and meetings feeling energized and excited to face the day. You greet challenges with enthusiasm, and you trust yourself to find the best possible solution.
Reason #9: No Gives You Back Control
Without a firm “no”, you can feel like your life is spiraling out of control.
You feel like everyone else is making decisions for you. You're busy working on everyone else's priorities. You’re meeting their needs and yet you don't feel good about yourself.
Saying “no” gives you back that feeling of control. It reminds you that you are in in the driver's seat of your own life. You are picking and choosing what your priorities are and living according to your values.
Reason #10: No Makes Your “Yes” Precious
When you say “no” to the wrong things, you get to say “yes” to the right things. You get to say yes to the things that excite you.
Yes, to the projects that energize you. Yes, to the relationships that fulfill you. Yes, to the dreams and the goals that truly matter to you. Yes, to the values that reflect who you are as a person.
At its core, saying “no” is about choosing what doesn’t matter and refusing to give it any more space in your life. When you do this, you have the freedom to say “yes” to the things that truly matter to you!
What do you need to say no to?
I'd love to hear from you!
Which reason for embracing no resonated most with you? And what's one thing you need to say no to this week?
Let me know in the comments below!