The Power of ‘No’

I’ve had some really great client conversations this past week and nothing is more rewarding from a work standpoint that seeing a client take to heart what they are learning in therapy, apply it, and benefit from it. It seems this past week that boundaries, more specifically saying no, has been a theme in several of the conversations I’ve had. I’ve talked about boundaries in the past, and one of my favourite ways of explaining boundaries is to take from the work of Byron Katie. Click here to review the piles. Once we have an understanding of what we are responsible for and what others are responsible for, that’s half of the battle. It still takes some work and effort to go from knowing and understanding to actually applying.

We might learn what is within our control and influence, but it can still be really challenging to say no or not take responsibility for other people’s piles. We get into the habit and routine of being a ‘yes’ person, and people in our world become accustomed to us saying yes. Sometimes this leads us to commit to things we don’t want to or even feeling used by people who may take advantage of our pleasing nature. It is hard work and even a little bit scary to choose to do something different, but the reward is so worth it!

When we only become responsible for our wellbeing and not everyone else’s, it is extremely freeing. We take away a lot of stress and negativity because we are only focused on making one person happy rather than everyone in our inner circle. There is tremendous pressure for a ‘yes’ person and often resentment and bitterness surface because the reason for saying yes is done out of obligation rather than a genuine willingness.

When we learn to find our voice and say no, sometimes we need to be careful that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far to the other side. This isn’t about never saying yes to someone but it’s about learning to do it for the right reasons. This also doesn’t mean never doing something you don’t want to do again, it’s more about finding your voice and bringing compromise to relationships.

Not every day feels successful or like there has been movement, but when they happen it makes me want to pull out my happy dance!



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