Why is saying “no” so difficult? I’m as guilty as anyone for not using this word enough. Thinking I can fit in one more appointment, errand, or task I say yes, instead of no. There’s always more I want to do or think I should fit into my day. There’s an art to saying “no,” that I have yet to master. Luckily, being an artist isn’t required to use the simple, yet effective word, just a lot of practice. No is not a four-letter-word that we should refrain from using (which might be part of my problem since I do like those four-letter phrases.) Saying “no” is a way to set a boundary. We all need boundaries around our time and essentially ourselves. Fences are boundaries that provide important barriers of protection. Think of the word NO as a fence post, fences can’t be built without posts.
These barriers don’t have to be threatening to be effective. They can be creative and beautiful if we are mindful of when and where to plant our posts. When we honor ourselves by setting boundaries we begin to establish respect for self and that of others. Saying “no” is a way to honor and protect ourselves from over committing so we can be more fully present in the activities we say “yes” to. Avoiding the overuse of “yes” is just as important as incorporating “no” into our vocabulary. Hearing or saying no is not a negative phrase to avoid, on the contrary, no is positive when used correctly.
Practicing the art of saying “no” is a healthy way to take care of ourselves. Fences need mending and boundaries need maintaining, but the effort is always worth it. Try strengthening your boundaries by saying “no” more often and “yes” less frequently to yourself and others. The clarity you gain might result in an unexpected masterpiece of personal peacefulness.