A prime example of this just showed up in my life. I was at brunch the other day with my girlfriends, and all of them expressed how exhausted they felt just from everyday life. One said: “I need to learn how to say no. I say yes to things I don’t want to do.” She went on to say she really wants to get back into art and expressing her creative side, but she is always doing favors for everyone else, and at the end of the day she is just too tired.
I call this the “when you’re OK, I’m OK” pattern. Women are especially prone to taking care of everyone else around them. Many mothers in particular show up for everyone else before they put their own needs first.
Many of my life-coaching clients express this same dissatisfaction with life; they take great pride in being there for others, but it is a double-edged sword in the sense that their own personal needs are never met.
With my coaching clients, we work together to create an action plan to help them show up more for themselves. It starts with adopting a new favorite word: No. Learning how to make no your go-to word is a powerful practice that can help you cultivate better self-care. When we say "no" to others (when it doesn't align with our highest good) it protects our time. And time is the most valuable resource we have. When we say "yes" to things we don’t really want to do, we are saying to ourselves: “You are not worth it. The other person is more important.”
Many people are conditioned to feel worthy by giving and helping others. But as my good friend at brunch expressed—as well as countless other coaching clients—the outcome can be exhaustion, resentment, and regret. Sometimes when we overextend ourselves in this way it can even manifest into physical forms like weight gain or premature gray hair. This is because our stress levels increase when we feel imbalanced. And when we say "yes" to other people at the cost of our own desires and needs, we fall victim to sacrificing our own selves.
So adopt your new favorite word: No.
Saying no to people, things, opportunities, and situations that don’t align with your highest good is a profound act of self-love. It is actually the opposite of that dirty little word our parents would scold us with. If we can reframe the energy of the word, we will get a new outcome. Using the word no is a key step to showing up for yourself. As Steve Jobs said: “It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
In the process of becoming the best you, "no" should be your go-to word.
After all, most of us are overcommitted as is. Saying no can actually help balance your time. The thought of layering additional obligations on top of a job, kids, and everything else can feel prohibitive. What worked for me was cutting out habits or self-imposed commitments that weren't serving me. That means anything that wasn't making me happier, healthier, or better, I’d say no to. Try it out.
Here are 10 things I’m saying NO to, so I can be happy, healthy, and free:
To make your own Love Your Life to the Fullest list, grab this free guide from the author.