We spend a lot of time talking about the value of the word ‘No’. We say ‘No is a complete sentence.’ We talk about owning your ‘No’. And no doubt, having firm boundaries around what you will and won’t allow to into your life is one of the most powerful shaping forces available to you. But there’s a really important thing that we all must remember as we make these choices -- do not allow yourself to become a prisoner to your ‘No’.
Yes is an equally powerful word, and many people are afraid of it. Learning how to say no is an incredibly empowering tool. Most people lack the skill to effectively use it because they mistake being a doormat for being nice. When a person realizes how much power they can wield with the word ‘no’, it can be very tempting to overuse it. People often default to saying no because it protects them from what might or might not hurt them. No is the safer choice. No is the more comfortable choice, and often, no is the right choice. But when we say yes, we are opening ourselves up to new experiences, expanding our limits, and growing our world and the variety of our possible futures.
Knowing when to say yes and when to say no allows you to establish healthy boundaries in your life and it is one of the most necessary traits successful people can develop.
The way that real growth happens is when we stretch ourselves just past our current limits. By defaulting to no, we often shut ourselves out from opportunities to stretch ourselves to the next level. People run the risk of never discovering their full potential because they are afraid to say yes.
A child who doesn’t know how to swim may see a swimming pool and tense up and pull back with fear. This is a powerful and essential survival instinct. However, under the right conditions, with adult supervision or during swim lessons, it’s perfectly safe for a child to go into a swimming pool. It’s fun! When a child has the support necessary to try new things, their fear melts away.
Adults are very much the same. New things scare us. The unknown is rife with potential for doom and failure and everything bad that could possibly happen. And yet, under the right conditions, it’s perfectly safe and hugely beneficial to try new things. It’s essential. Without it, you will fall into a bland rut. Your energy will disappear. Your enthusiasm will vanish. Your intelligence and your heart will suffer for it. You become a closed system.
Saying yes is about being open to new intelligence and new sources of energy, the two ingredients necessary for improving anything. Knowing how and when to say no frees you up to say yes when the conditions are right. That makes ‘no’ even more powerful than we might first realize.
What you let into your life, the flexibility or inflexibility of your boundaries -- where they’re set, the quality of your relationships, the honesty of your communication -- these are the things that will help you develop and grow. Don’t let your ‘no’ dictate everything. Be the owner of an incredibly powerful ‘yes’. Use it wisely, but make sure you use it.