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Why "No" is the New "Yes"

September 26, 2017

Photo by Mira Nedyalkova 

 

Why does that pit in your stomach sink so viciously when you’re confronted with a simple request for help? That last minute text from your boss asking if you can work just three more hours; the non-stop begging from your friend asking if she can borrow your vintage leather jacket just one more time; or your aunt wondering if you can feed her cats over the weekend. People expect so much from each other now, and it seems like we’re always obliged to respond with a dead end answer with “yes.”

 

Saying yes can be dangerous, like a cliché: overusing the phrase makes it meaningless, and can be called taking the easy way out. We feel a vortex of guilt when asked to take on a certain task and offer up an automatic “yes,” because letting down the asker would just be the scandal of the century. But if we genuinely don’t have the time or means to do or be something for someone, what’s the point of saying yes? The end result will probably be more chaotic from bumbling on through without having any idea of how to execute the task. Because in reality, doing nothing right is better than doing something wrong.

 

Telling someone no can be a turnoff for some people, but it can also be some of the most empowering two letters. It’s only a single syllable, but it’s powerful and it indicates a choice -- a choice not to be blindsided by stress and burdens and feelings of mediocrity. And in a paradoxical sort of way, people will admire your ability to say no. They’ll be stunned at first, the words hitting them like a few blocks of cement, but then they’ll walk away wondering how you possess such a level of confidence.

 

“No” also emulates decisiveness; it’s a firm response to let someone know that you don’t want to do something, not that you can’t do it. After saying no on multiple occasions, you’ll feel empowered in navigating similar situations. Telling someone no is especially important if you feel uncomfortable, stressed, or tired. If you’re not at your best, your mind won’t be at its best either. Helping people from time to time is a great way to show your appreciation and respect for them. Sometimes though, these favours and commitments can pile up in layers, pushing you further below your threshold. Saying no doesn’t demonize your character, and if that’s how people view your confidence, then they probably haven’t said no in a while either.

 

It can be hard to break the habit of saying yes to things. We love our friends and can’t resist to be there for them in any and every situation. We want to be the best employees for our bosses, and we refuse to let our reputation be stripped from us. The word “yes” often becomes a shirt we wear, day after day, our favourite old shirt we can’t bear to let go. But sometimes you just have to throw the shirt out already!

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