saynoNo. Come on, just say it with me… “NO”

How did that feel? Empowering or terrifying? Perhaps a little of both?

You see, we are taught from a very early age that the word “no” has negative connotations. As a child, when you heard the word no, it meant that you needed to stop an unacceptable behavior or were about to be denied something you really wanted.

As a result of this early (faulty) conditioning, we often arrive at adulthood with the unconscious belief that saying no is a bad thing and should be avoided at all costs – even if it hinders, frustrates or otherwise impacts some component of our own life. Simply put, we often would rather say yes to someone else and deal with the inconvenience that may cause us personally, than say no and feel as if we’ve done something “bad.”

So you see,  this behavior is often rooted in a need for self preservation. And understanding that reality is the first step in learning to overcome the immediate tendency to always answer in the affirmative (no matter what the cost to your own personal needs or convictions).

So while you are indirectly feeling as if you are protecting yourself when you fail to say no, what you are actually doing in many cases is creating undue hardship or conflict without even realizing it. Many times this hardship manifests itself in the form you of being spread too thin, not having enough hours in the day to complete your own objectives, diluting your effectiveness on each individual task when you are trying to juggle too many… and the list goes on.

And in the rare event that you do say no to someone, often you will find yourself second guessing that choice or playing it over and over in your mind, feeling as if you’ve let someone down or abandoned them. And those thoughts can quickly put you into a tail spin of guilt and misgiving until you ultimately you may even give in and rescind your “no” and replace it with a yes – frequently out of a false sense of shame or feeling as if you have neglected the other party.

In the end, when you are faced with a question that requires a yes or no response, the best course of action is to first take a moment and pause. Instead of giving a knee jerk yes or no reply – simply take a moment to weigh in on the matter before committing to an answer one way or another.

Then ask yourself this:

1. Will saying no compromise my ethics or a prior commitment?
2. If I say yes, will I be neglecting something else that is a greater priority in my life?
3. Are the consequences of saying “no” real or imagined?
4. What was my initial gut instinct upon hearing the question in the first place?

Quickly taking stock of your answers to the above without overthinking it will usually lead you to the answer that is most beneficial for you given all the circumstances involved. The longer you think about it, the more tendency you may have to rationalize or overthink your  actions – so care should be taken to make this technique a fast, snappy checklist that you process in a matter of a few minutes and no longer. Using this approach, you will get more of an untainted result and that will lead you to making a better overall decision.

As time goes by, when you employ these strategies you will notice that  instead of making you uncomfortable, saying “no” will start to give you a sense of calm serenity and a feeling of being at peace with your inner guidance system. You will applaud yourself for taking a stand and improve your performance in all areas of you life as you have truly taken heed to your inner voice and acted on your intuition.

Enjoy your newfound power and be sure and let me know how it works out for you – I love to hear your success stories!