If you’d ask me to describe my 21-year-old self, I’d include “yes woman”. Whether a request from work, a new task at church, or a favor for family and friends, my answer was always “yes”. For me, feeling needed or specially requested was fulfilling -- I found validation and affirmation in providing myself and my gifts for others. Even to the point of saying “yes” to toxic relationships. I’ve learned that once you practice saying “yes” to everything, you’ll say “yes” to almost anything. And that’s where your “yes” loses it’s power.
Didn’t think I’d acknowledge “yes” as much in a post about the power of “no”, did you? Well, that’s where the power of “no” transfers. It’s in appropriately practicing your “no” that your “yes” regains power. So, where’s it start? The ability to say no? Introspection. Reflect on the “yes” answers you may or may have not received growing up. Did you feel validated and affirmed growing up? Was your genuine self, exploring self, evolving self truly embraced or was there a space of accommodation you had to enter to feel accepted? It may seem cliche, but rejection can birth a void in all of us that causes the initial “yes” to turn into a lifelong drain. We feel the emptiness of rejection and seek the fullness of validation, so we compromise. Have you ever felt like you had to say “yes” to something you may not have been comfortable with just to be accepted by a group of friends in high school? What about saying “yes” to every new project or task at your job to dispel assumptions that you don’t value hard work? Want to keep it real? How many of us have said “yes” to a relationship with a partner we knew was toxic for us, but the loneliness without someone was too heavy to bear?
It’s in this compromise to fill a void that we begin to lose power and drain our energy. Our energy is our currency in life. Imagine every “yes” as a $20 bill. Can you imagine how quickly and painstakingly empty your bank account would become if you always said “yes” to every request? Don’t get me wrong -- there is ZERO issue with saying “yes” to a request or giving your time, gifts, and self to someone or something. However, the same way we budget our bank accounts, we must budget (boundary) our “yes”. Boundaries: understanding that everyone does not and cannot handle our best.
Once someone has access to you and your gifts, they will misuse and abuse them with your permission. Set boundaries! Developing the discernment to understand when to say “yes” and even more importantly, “no”, will empower you! Taking back the power of your “no” can breathe power into your “yes”.
So, how do we start the empowerment journey?
What is causing you to almost always say “yes” to others? Are you seeking validation or affirmation? How can you affirm yourself to strengthen your inner validity?
Begin with self-affirming statements and routines. Then continue by saying “no” to something once a week. How do those around you respond? What do you notice about their respect for your “no”? Here you may begin to discern who and what deserves your best -- your “yes”.
Say “yes” to something positive for your wellness (emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, physical) and say “no” to something toxic. Take note of how your mind, body, and heart respond. Notice a difference?
It’s a complex balance -- knowing when to say “yes” or “no”. And the journey isn’t one traveled overnight. But you’re also not on this journey alone. There is a community of strong, empowered, and evolving women seeking to find, develop, and proudly say a resounding “no” when necessary. Channel you inner Congresswoman Maxine Waters (the G.O.A.T.) and proclaim your strength! It’s in the respect for your “no” that the gratitude for your “yes” is cultivated.