Saying No Is Actually Saying Yes

Here is an idea I’d like you to consider: No = yes, and yes = no.

Think about it! When you say yes to something or someone, that usually means you have to say no to someone or something else. Alternatively, when you say no, that usually means you’ve got room to say yes to an alternative.

So … it just depends which side of the relationship or situation you’re on what the answer actually means for you, right? A “no” is always a “yes” in some way, and vice versa!

This has me thinking about making choices, and how much more difficult it is for me to say no than it is to say yes.

Why is that?

(And please tell me I’m not alone …)

For me, I think it has to do with the feeling that saying no can be a risk. My “no” might potentially hurt or disappoint someone, or change how something functions or gets done.

It can also feel like one of those “should” moments, where I feel the pressure of expectations that convince me I should:

  • Help that person because they need it. 
  • Be the kind of person that can handle this request. 
  • Just be okay with this. 
  • Stay quiet and not cause a problem.

All of that is to say, there’s some potential for losses in the “no” game. Losses that come from not meeting expectations, inconveniencing someone, or even hurting someone’s feelings. And these are likely things we don’t want to experience.

But I can’t help wondering what would change about saying no if I viewed it as a “yes.” 

This shift in perspective also has me thinking about the side of conversation we’re actually on when we experience a “no” or a “yes” … AND IF WE CAN CHOOSE IT.

On one side of the experience, we can look at saying no as doing something that affects others (which of course it can).

But do you ever look at it as something that affects you? Do you ever see it from the other side?

Do you ever choose to view the “no” to the outside as a “yes” to your inside?

And how much would that change your ability to say no, if you saw it was really a “yes”?

I know, I know. This can get confusing. But here is where I’m landing.

Instead of fearing and then avoiding the stopping, disconnecting, disappointing, or hurting of a “no,” I could choose the possibility, honesty, connection, and progress of a “yes.”

If I’m afraid of hurting someone’s feelings when I say no, but I don’t consider how that impacts me, I’m saying yes to their needs but no to mine. I’m leaving myself out!

(Right? I mean, when I think I should help someone because they’ve asked, and I care about them enough to want to help … but I don’t also consider myself in that decision, I’m saying yes to them and no to me.)

But when I do consider my needs, and allow myself to say yes to meeting them, that may mean I have to say no to something or someone else (or maybe just address them in a different way).

“On the other side of saying, ‘No, thank you,’ is everything you want to say ‘Yes’ to.”

Danielle LaPorte

Yes, this can feel risky. For people pleasers, perfectionists, or even just highly empathic people, a “no” can feel like you’re inflicting pain or undue stress on someone for whom you care deeply.

But the truth is, considering your Self in the decision is actually super important. Because it allows you to be truthful. You won’t feel the resentment from doing for someone when you don’t have the time. Instead, you’ll feel the relief that comes from fitting in the things that matter to you as well as to others.

As you do these things, your self-love and respect will begin to grow. And they can support the possibility that a “yes” to you and your needs is not only possible, it’s also permissible, appropriate, and important.

I’ll leave you with this …

What would happen if when someone asked you for something, your first thought was, “What can I say yes to here?” And how would it feel to answer, “Myself!“?

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