THE BLOG
03/10/2016 09:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Saying 'No' Is Saying Yes to You and What Matters

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- No. I don't want to do that.

- No. Thanks for the offer but that's not how we do business.

- No. I'm not ready to show you what I've written until I edit the final draft.

- No. I don't trust him and that's why I won't work with him.

- No. Sorry. I don't think I'll do a good job if I take on more right now.

- No. I don't agree.

- No. We're no longer friends because I don't like how she treats people.

Saying no is not easy

It's natural to want to help others. People matter and we want to matter to people. But... often we're afraid we won't be liked if we say no. We don't want to deal with another person's anger toward us so we say yes and then we get irritated because we're taking time away from the things we most want to do. Fear stops us.

We also feel guilty, thinking we're hurting someone by saying no. We want to avoid conflicts at any cost -- don't ruffle feathers -- don't create a bad situation with friends, colleagues at work or loved ones. Just say yes and deal with being stressed and overscheduled and resentful. Now -- how good does that sound and feel to you?

The key is this -- you always have a choice to say yes or no.
You are in charge.

Begin by setting standards. Draw the line and maintain your choices. Practice saying yes and no so you can do what you want and see what happens to you and your goals. You'll probably find this happening:

- You'll feel free and relaxed.

- You'll gain more positive energy.

- You'll get happier.

- You'll become more creative and productive.

- You'll be true to yourself doing what you want to do.

Do yourself the favor by saying no

Some things are in our control and some are not. How people will react to you saying no is out of your control. People will either accept your choices and respect you or they'll move on and you will too. Some people will support you and some not. It's the wonderful risk you take learning to say "no" to others and "yes" to yourself. You may lose some friends but the question is... were they really friends to begin with?

Yes or No?

Practice and learn to do what is mentally and physically healthy for you. Focus on what matters most. It's not selfish. It's practical and necessary for your personal happiness and success to say yes to yourself and no to others.

Your responsibilities start with you. If you want a family then you've made a choice and a commitment to raise a family and care for them until they can take care of themselves. The same is true with having a relationship, owning a home, building a career, opening a business, living life. You're in charge.

See what's in your control and act on it

Take charge by examining and prioritizing what works best for you.

Ask why you're taking something on and how it will benefit you and others.

Make sure what you choose to do will not take you away from what really matters to you.

If you're not proud of something, don't do it.

If you feel you're being untrue to yourself, stop and walk away.

If you're just trying to please people, not saying what's truly on your mind and in your heart, change.

Always be honest with yourself and others.

Don't be afraid to make a bold decision by saying yes and no.

Begin. Try. Work at it one tiny step at a time.

Become an expert at saying YES... and saying... NO.