THE BLOG
03/03/2014 09:40 am ET Updated May 01, 2014

Saying Yes to Life by Learning to Say No

It's 7:00 a.m., I'm lying in bed deciding whether I should get up, go back to sleep or attempt to meditate when I suddenly have the realization that what I really need to do to make 2014 successful, is to start saying no. Weird. I know, but it's come to my awareness that quite often I say yes when I really mean no. Or, I say yes without really being sure if it's my yes or someone else's. Or is it a yes because I don't want to be left out, miss out, forgotten, judged, disliked or misunderstood? It's damn well confusing and frankly, I'm tired of it all.

That may have sounded a little like a bitch fest but the truth of the matter is, yes should mean yes, and I'm ready to know what that truly means for me. I believe it takes a lot of energy and life force out of a person (that person being me) to hold an image that isn't true to oneself. It would be like driving 3,000 miles from L.A. to New York, only to get there and realize I didn't really want to go. I would be tired, frustrated and honestly pretty mad at myself, not to mention, wasting a lot of gas!

In Anita Moorjani's mind-expanding book, Dying To Be Me, she states,

I knew that what was really the only purpose of life: to be our self, live our truth, and be the love that we are.

Her story tells the tale of how she miraculously healed from a coma brought on by her cancer, and how a part of her (her soul, consciousness, whatever you would like to call it) was aware of what she was going through the entire time. Not only did Anita know what was happening in places her body wasn't, she also had the experience of communicating with her father who had passed away years ago. In her book she talks about how before her coma she realized she had been living a life only to please others, and to do what was "right," regardless of how she truly felt. After her "out of the body" journey, she found a deep peace she had never known before, and the awareness that her true healing and freedom would come from completely accepting who she was. Anita realized it was completely safe to be her true self, and that it was what she was put on earth to do. It was what we were all here to do. To know, love, be and express who we truly are.

This book touched me deeply and inspired me to look at where I wasn't accepting myself, who was I still trying to please, and what was my truth? Even though I had come a long way transforming and growing in these areas of my life, I found that there was another layer to uncover and another level of self acceptance to reach. I discovered new parts of myself to know, love, be and express.

So how I do I begin? How do I really learn to say no? And what's a good way to discern what is really important to me? I think one answer is to clarify what's a real yes.

Cheryl Richardson, author and life coach, is one of my favorite teachers on this subject. She talks about only saying yes to her "absolute yes" list. She encourages us to make self-care our top priority, by saying no unless it's an absolute yes. The goal is to spend our time and energy primarily on those things that bring us joy and make decisions based on what we want instead of what others want. When we don't set boundaries and take care of ourselves, our health and well-being are at stake.

Another way I can begin is by focusing on what I often encourage my coaching clients to do, to start with what I do know. I don't have to have all the answers to begin. I can begin with what is clear to me in this moment. To support me in clarifying my absolute yes list, I've decided to also create my no list.

So here are my lists:

What I say no to:
Drama
Negative people
Over-committing
Over-scheduling
Watching TV programs that don't really interest me
Too much Facebook
Too much other social media
Taking what other people say too personally
Over-indulging in unhealthy foods
Doing things out of obligation
Clutter
Judging
Withholding

What I say yes to:
Daily walks
Weekend trips
Laughter
Expressing myself honestly in a considerate way
Listening to music I love
Writing
Meditation (even if I only have five minutes)
Taking deep breaths
Going to bed earlier, waking up earlier
Positive people
Focusing on being grateful
Hugs
Adventure
Good books
Sharing my joy
Seeing the good in others and myself
Smiling
Letting go of things I don't need or use
Spontaneous dancing

My next step? Keep my lists handy to review often to see how I'm doing. What I want to change or add to my lists. This will assist me in knowing what I can change, add or take away in my life. It will support me saying no to what I don't want, and yes to what I do want. Seems so simple. Yet at times it's so easy to get off track by making a few choices that don't support doing what is true for me.

I also need to remember that growth is a process, and I need to be patient and kind to myself as I move forward with making these changes. I may have days I find it easy to say no to what I don't want, and other days I may be saying yes all over the place. So I say no to self-judgment, and yes to patience and compassion for my self and my journey.

So what do you want to say yes to and no to? Take a couple of minutes to write down a few of yours. Start with what you know and it will grow from there. You may find that it's a first step in living more true to what is in your heart, and discovering what will support you in creating a life you love to live.

I love what Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor says, "We're all going to die, but how many of us will truly live?"

I think I'm really living when I'm saying yes to what is true for me, by honoring what is in my heart to express. It's like a muscle that I can train and strengthen. The more I'm authentically saying yes, the easier it will be to keep doing it. So maybe that's what it takes to learn how to say no. Fill up my life with more of what is on my "absolute yes" list so there really isn't room for any of my no's.

So what does learning to say no really mean? It means committing to living a more authentic and conscious life. A life that I create based on honoring myself, accepting myself, and saying yes to the truth of my heart.

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