Saying No to Others = Saying Yes to Yourself

It’s time we have an open conversation about a word that often makes us cringe, but ironically holds within it a power to set us free and really revolutionize our lives.

“NO.”

Have you ever felt guilt or shame for wanting things for yourself? Or maybe you’ve been told that it’s selfish to put your needs first?

Well, it’s time to squash this misconception that we have been fed all of our lives.

“Every ‘yes’ to one thing, is a ‘no’ to something else,” like, yourself.

When we can learn to say NO to others, we are actually saying a resounding YES to ourselves – which is a powerful statement of self-worth and understanding that we matter.

The simple act of saying NO acknowledges our boundaries & emphasizes that our time, energy, and well-being are precious and worthwhile.

It’s not about closing doors on opportunities, but rather about opening the right ones.

It’s not about neglecting others, but about nourishing ourselves.

It’s about aligning our actions (and our yes’s) with our values, goals, and aspirations.

For many career women, myself included, the pursuit of success often manifests in a near compulsion to say ‘yes’ to every task, every opportunity, and every request that comes their way, and so balance takes a back seat and all of this leads to depletion and dissatisfaction.

It leads to overwhelm and burnout. So many of us wear busy, stress and overwork as a badge of honor.

The underlying narrative we’ve been subtly enculturated in all of our lives tells us that success is a product of relentless achievement, and quite honestly, borders on self-neglect. You’ve heard it before – “sacrifice now for success later.” It’s not completely untrue, success does require dedication and sometimes, sacrifice. But how much.

The misconception lies in believing that saying ‘yes’ to every professional obligation automatically translates to success.

We are living in tumultuous times, and it’s so important to remember that you are the captain of your own ship.

Recognizing the power of ‘no’ is the first step towards steering yourself towards a destination that’s defined by your vision and not by the expectations of others.

When you say ‘no’ to a project that doesn’t excite you, you’re saying ‘yes’ to the opportunity of choosing work that fuels your passion.

When you say ‘no’ to an extended work meeting, you’re saying ‘yes’ to family time, an evening run, or a much-needed downtime.

Every ‘no’ directed towards what doesn’t serve you is a ‘yes’ to what nurtures your soul, your growth, your happiness.

Saying ‘YES’ to YOURSELF doesn’t mean shirking your responsibilities or not pushing your boundaries. It means deliberately choosing your battles, it means embracing the fact that your energy is a finite resource and should be channeled towards what truly matters to you. 

Often wanting something for ourselves feels selfish, fuels guilt, and can be scary when we are not willing or ready to own our needs and what we want. YES to yourself, and investing in yourself, means you can more productively be there for others.

This balance is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for sustainable success.

So, the next time you’re in a situation where you’re asked to take on more than you can handle, remember the power of saying ‘no’. Remember that by saying ‘no’ to others, you’re saying ‘yes’ to yourself – to your physical and mental health, to your passions, to your peace of mind, and to your authentic growth.

You are your most significant commitment. It’s high time you started treating yourself that way. Say ‘yes’ to yourself, because you, more than anyone or anything else, deserve your attention, respect, and love. Your journey to success will thank you for it.

**Remember, context matters. Depending on the situation, one way of saying “no” might be more appropriate or gentle than another. Always consider the feelings and expectations of the person you’re communicating with.

Share this post

Signup for OUR newsletter

Get the latest Unstoppable Leadership news & leadership tips directly to your inbox!