Why “No” Is Just As Important As “Yes”


Most of us have way too many demands on our time. We have such long to-do lists and so many people who want things from us. And all too often, we say “yes” to any requests or invitations we get, without even really thinking about it. Yes to our bosses. Yes to friends and family. Yes to new commitments and obligations we didn’t really want to take on. Yes to events and activities we didn’t really want to go to. Saying yes can open us up to new connections and opportunities. But agreeing to anything and everything is not a practice of self-love. It leaves you with too few boundaries and too little time for yourself. There are a lot of reasons why the best thing you can do for you is sometimes to say no.
Protect your work/life balance.
One of the most important reasons to say no – at least in the workplace – is to protect the balance between your work and the rest of your life. Of course, we’re expected to generally do the things our bosses ask of us. But if you agree to every extra task and every new assignment, work can easily seep over into what’s supposed to be your time off. If you don’t have time in the workday to take on more, it’s important to say no.
Prevent burnout.
In the long run, you’ll be better off professionally (and personally) if you get used to saying no sometimes. Saying yes to everything will leave you overworked and excessively busy, and it’ll eventually lead to burnout. Suffering from burnout will damage your health, your relationships, your career, and more. Learning to say no will help make sure you avoid it.
Stand up for yourself.
If you agree to go along with whatever other people want, it allows them to treat you like a doormat. But saying no is a way you can stand up for yourself. It lets you prioritize your own preferences, and it prevents others from taking advantage of you. After all, the only person who can really stand up for you is you.
Live by your values.
What are the things you value? Connecting with your family, improving your health, working on your hobbies? But saying yes to things you don’t want to do takes time away from what’s really important. Similarly, maybe protecting the environment, following a plant-based diet, or living a natural lifestyle is important to you. When people invite you to events or activities that don’t align with those choices, saying no is the only way to live out your values. Of course, there are times that we need to say yes, even though we don’t want to. And times that, even if it’s not mandatory, saying yes is the kind thing to do. There are also situations where saying no becomes a way to avoid facing a fear. So don’t just decide you’re going to say no to everything that comes your way. But do allow saying no to be an option, especially if you’re someone who tends to always say yes. In order to hear that inner voice and know what we really need, we often need to create some space both mentally and physically. Giving yourself a chance to slow down can be as simple as a short meditation, or as big as signing up for a truly healing retreat. If you feel like you are moving too fast to know what decision is the right one for you, it’s time to pump the brakes and listen.
About the Author
Jennifer Ambrose Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.