Say Yes to No

06/29/2015 04:45 pm ET | Updated Jun 27, 2016

Taylor Swift said "no" to Apple.

Malala Yousafzai said "no" to the Taliban.

Oncologists are saying "no" to Big Pharma.

Blacks and whites together are saying "no" to the Confederate flag.

And now, Apple will be paying royalties. A girl's right to an education is unquestioned. The cost of cancers meds is under review. A shameful symbol of oppression is coming down.

Who knew that such a small word could have such a big impact?

"No" is a sentence all by itself. It doesn't need dependent clauses of justification or explanation, excuses or permission. It just is. "No" does indeed mean "no."

"No" respects personal boundaries. It sets limits. It asserts personal agency. It takes a stand.

Women (and girls) are much too quick to say "yes." Yes, to underpaid or unappreciated work. Yes, to social dis-respect. Yes, to unwarranted invasions of our private lives. As congenital people pleasers, we are conditioned to say "no" to our own needs in favor of others'. We're reluctant to own our space. Or confront the micro-aggressions that devalue us daily.

Then we wonder why we are sick, depressed and unfulfilled.

You don't have to be a celebrity or member of an important interest group to make a difference in a life. Empower yourself and when you feel the moment is right, just say "no."