When I was nine or ten, I wanted to wear a little skirt in zero degree weather in Canada. And my mom said no. I cried and rolled around on the ground and threw a fit, but she stayed firm. “It’s freezing outside,” she said. “You’re wearing snowpants.” I remember wanting so badly to wear that skirt, like it was the only thing that truly mattered in the world. And I remember despising those soggy snowpants with every bone in my body. In that moment, I couldn’t understand why my mom was denying me that impulse.
Years later, I’m so grateful to my mother because she was wonderful at saying no. She wasn’t afraid to say no. She didn’t think saying no would make me love her less. And she was right! I loved her more because I saw her as a woman who was strong, who had set boundaries, and who spoke her mind.
As a writer, coach, and creative woman who always has several projects going on at any given time (plus everything else life brings), saying no has been my saving grace. But there are times when it feels really hard to turn someone down. So you ignore them for days… or just end up saying yes even though you meant no.
Client after client, woman after woman, we all have some pain-in-the-ass difficulty with saying “no” that’s specific to each of us. But it’s a problem that simply requires practice to resolve (like most problems do when you subscribe to a growth mindset).
We have to practice saying no, because we’re so used to saying yes. We’re so used to being good girls all the time. So used to constantly saying yes in order to earn other people’s approval. And social approval is a short-term dopamine hit, much like a piece of chocolate or anything else.
Here are some of my favorite resources on developing a “no” practice:
- How to Say No to Everything by Alexandra Franzen
- 25 Badass Ways to Say No by Justine Musk
- How to Back Out Gracefully by Marie Forleo
- How To Recognize When You’re Being too Nice by me
- Open, gentle heart. Big fucking fence. by Danielle Laporte
- Divine Overwhelm by Nisha Moodley
And a few more thoughts:
- Saying no in the short-term is saying yes to your deeper desire and your long-term vision.
- You can say no without being rude and without giving the person a toothache because you’re being too nice. But it takes practice!
- Not everyone will like you for saying no to them, and that’s OK! Not everyone will like you in life.
- Just because you say no doesn’t mean you are a heartless woman.
- Boundaries will allow you to flourish and focus. Nature is a wonderful example of this as all ecosystems need boundaries in order to survive. A river. A human cell. A tree.
Why does this really matter? Why do women need to develop a “no” practice? Because the consequences are otherwise grave: Stressed, overwhelmed, burnt out women who are backing out of creativity and leadership because it’s just too crazy. They’ve been praised and rewarded for saying yes, and haven’t mastered the art of saying no.
This is it, mamas. Practice saying no.
Thoughts? Comment in this post and let me know!
Photo by Jaclyn Le.