Saying no is a gift; both to yourself as to the other person.
Now you might be wondering why The YES Woman in person is writing a post on The Art of Saying No. Well, because saying no to others means saying yes to yourself; and so it is a positive thing in the end.
Saying no is one of the hardest things there is when you feel you need to please others for your validation. It is something like wanting to be able to breathe under water; practically impossible. It feels like putting your life on the line when you decline a certain request or invitation. It doesn’t only feel like it, in a way it is like that if your worthiness depends on other people’s approval.
And by saying yes to others you think you can get their approval.
Your approval, worthiness or validation doesn’t depend on others. What other people think of you has nothing to do with you. Their opinion is theirs and you cannot possibly create it for them even if you wanted to. You don’t know what other people think, you don’t know what other people need and you don’t know what they expect from you. Better yet: it’s none of your business.
I discovered this truth only some years ago and it was both extremely shocking and liberating at the same time.
Before that I was arrogant enough to think that I could manipulate other people’s opinion of me by behaving according to what I thought they expected from me.
You might want to read that sentence again.
Yes, it’s arrogant to think that you know what other people think, feel or expect from you in order for them to like you. It’s also very exhausting and serves no purpose. It’s both giving your power away to other people and their opinion of you, and thinking that it’s also in your power to influence either of them.
Of course acting friendly and respectful will get you more friends than acting hostile and rude, but what people truly think of you – whether they love you or not – is completely out of your hands.
Because we’re talking about opinions, personal tastes and attractions here that are so personal that there is no way to please all of them. You can never really fully understand what desires, wishes or preferences another person has. We might think we’re doing a great job at guessing what they expect from us, because the other person is happy, but don’t even dare attribute that happiness to your doing.
Someone’s happiness is their responsibility and their responsibility only.
For example: if I like pasta and my partner cooks me pasta I’m happy, but it’s not the main reason for my happiness. If it were, I’d always have to eat pasta made by my partner to be happy. If I like going out with my friends and my friends go out with me I’m happy. But it’s not the main reason for my happiness. If it were, I’d always have to go out with my friends to be happy. If I like hearing from my mum she’s proud of me and she tells me so, I’m happy. But it’s not the main reason for my happiness. If it were, she’d always have to tell me she’s proud of me in order for me to be happy.
These are all things that are impossible to maintain by others and are totally out of our control. And so if we are unhappy when we don’t get the things that make us happy, we’re victims of our own expectations. We put our happiness into other people’s hands which is the perfect recipe for unhappiness.
Other people will always disappoint you; not because they’re bad, but because it’s not their main goal in life to make you happy or to do everything in their power to generate your happiness.
They have their own lives to live. They have their own happiness to take care of. And by being true to their own personal preferences, values and needs, they are actually happy people.
Being with them is a pleasurable experience because they don’t need you for their happiness. And so they don’t feel guilty when saying no to you.
They know they aren’t responsible for other people’s happiness. Better yet, they know that they create more happiness by being happy themselves and so they focus on that and only that. And when they don’t feel like doing something, because it makes them feel unhappy, they happily say no.
They are in line with themselves, they’re not tricking anyone else and the other person has the chance to take care of his or her own happiness by finding another solution to their problem, or their need.
Let’s say yes to ourselves more and no to people that need us for their happiness – and turn this planet into one truly happy place.
I’d love to hear your reflections on this topic. Feel free to leave a comment below or write an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to learn how to say yes to yourself more and feel less guilty about choosing your own joy, then let me know and we can talk about how coaching can help you create your very own dolce vita. Let’s live life on your terms, shall we?
Love, joy & courage,