A few years ago, I read a book by Christian author Lysa TerKeurst called "The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands." At the time, I didn't really feel like the book impacted me. I was 23 (maybe?) but I was reading this from the point of view of Lysa herself; a full time mother, author, speaker, wife and church volunteer. I didn't feel like I had enough on my plate to really relate. But as I've gotten older, I have added more to my to-do lists and taken on more demands. Even more than that though, I have been through more experiences with more and more people. I learned that practicing my "best yes" was about more than just agreeing to another role or showing up at another event, it was about learning to say NO to opportunities, places and people that no longer served me or deserved my energy.
Saying no can be AWKWARD. Especially if you are or once were a people pleaser (like I was.) It can be uncomfortable to say no to a friend and especially a family member. It can be REALLY uncomfortable to say no to your boss or people of power in your life. But let me tell you girl, when you get the hang of it, LIFE CHANGES. You take back control of your life and leave room to make those big YES decisions to things and people you actually WANT to!
Here is an example... if you've followed me for some time, you know my dad and I have had a rocky relationship. He can be very judgmental and condescending sometimes without realizing it. When I finally got the nerve to sit my dad down and say NO MORE, things changed. The conversation was emotional, uncomfortable and messy. But it needed to be done. It went a little something like this... "Dad, I love you and I know you never intend to hurt me. However, I am at an age where I realize the way you treat me sometimes is not okay with me and its not something I will continue to allow." Things didn't immediently change and we DANG sure still have our ups and downs. But now, he knows where I stand. He knows my boundaries and sometimes I have to remind him but he can always go back to the conversation we once had. If he chose to ignore my boundaries purposely or minimize my feelings, I knew I would have to create major distance and that was something I was prepared to do. Saying NO doesn't always look like boundaries though. Sometimes, saying no means you decline a birthday party invitation because you just need an evening to yourself. Sometimes no means protecting your time and energy so you can feel good about the times you say YES.
It took a few years for my friends to get used to this from me. But now when I respond or send a message like, "Hey! I am so sorry but I won't be making it tonight. I REALLY need some self care time. I hope you have a blast and we can do lunch soon! xoxo" My friends know not to push but they also don't get upset with me. They have learned that saying no doesn't mean I love them any less.
Then there is NO in the workplace. Maybe your boss asks you to work a few extra hours or pick up an additional shift. It can feel forced and saying no seems scary. But the truth is, you DO NOT have to say yes to things like this. Picking up extra shifts or hours simply because your boss or another employee asks you is not mandatory and you cannot be fired because of this. Maybe your boss is asking you to do something you don't feel comfortable doing. STORY TIME! Back when I worked in the cosmetic surgery field I was TRAINED to perform B12 infusions by IV. (No, I am not a nurse. Different practices have different rules as far as performing certain things under a physicians license. Chill. I never did them lol keep reading) I was very uncomfortable with the idea of doing an IV, I knew there were little things in the process that could potentially make it dangerous if not done properly. I didn't want that responsibility. I remember dreading someone coming in for an IV but I was too afraid to say anything to my boss because I didn't want her/him to find me incapable or "dumb." I remember the day someone came in and finally asked for the procedure. I had everything set up and at the last second I simply told the patient, "The doctor will be in shortly to administer your IV." I told my boss the patient was set up and ready but I would not be doing the IV because I didn't feel comfortable enough to do it. I remember her/him getting frustrated because we were busy. But I stood firm and offered my help else where. This was not my practice. This was their's. If they wanted the patient happy, they could do it themselves. It was not my responsibility to do something so invasive that I didn't feel 100% confident about. I didn't get fired. I didn't get in trouble. It was just another day an it passed. Looking back now, its silly to think how anxious I made myself over something so small.
These days, you can ask any one of my friends or family members... I am an expert at saying no. It may have been uncomfortable to practice at first. But people get used to it and will respect you more for it. After all, those that matter won't mind and those that mind don't matter.