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Saying Yes to Yourself, Instead of Saying No to Others

Instead of worrying about saying “no” to others, consider how you might say “yes” to yourself. It’s a subtle shift, but a powerful one. Pursuing this philosophy can make a big difference towards living a more joyful and authentic life.

Saying “no” to others can feel bad or negative. Saying “yes” to yourself can feel renewing, energizing, and affirming.

Often when we refuse another’s request we feel guilty or unsupportive. This happens even if the request is not entirely reasonable. This sets up a negative pattern of agreeing to things that might be uncomfortable or inconvenient. And when we take on things that we shouldn’t, we tend to feel bad, so our attempt to avoid these feelings doesn’t end up working anyway. After all, is exhaustion or resentment any better than feeling guilty or unsupportive?

How can we release ourselves from this pattern and begin saying “yes” to ourselves instead of “no” to others? Try some of the methods below:

  • Be proactive. Structure your schedule in a way that best suits your needs and responsibilities. Let people know that you need to fulfill the items on your agenda before you can make any other commitments. This is a way to say “yes” to yourself in the form of honoring your schedule–rather than feeling anxious about how you might say “no” to spontaneous requests.
  • Do your own stuff first. If you are facing multiple demands in a day or a week, complete your own tasks first and then tackle things for others. This not only helps you fulfill your commitments, but also better ensures that you will have time, energy, and space for others in the long run.
  • Choose wisely. Respect time for the limited quantity that it is and do only those things that seem reasonable. Ask yourself if the task is something you that fits your values, if it’s realistic given your other duties, and/or if it even needs to be done at all. If the answer is no to any of these questions, there are probably other things you could say yes to that are more worthy of your time and effort.
  • Pause before getting started. Did anyone ask you specifically or directly to help or are you taking care of things out of habit? Release the compulsion to manage everything. Who knows, you may inadvertently be blocking others’ participation!
  • Think big picture. What are your goals? Does doing this or that task for others help you achieve your goals or impede your progress? If it’s the latter, re-prioritize in order to let go of those things that are keeping your attention away from realizing your objectives.

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Try out the strategies above (or use them as an inspiration to create your own) and begin saying “yes” to yourself. By doing so, saying “no” to others will become less and less of an issue – your life will be set up in such a way that unreasonable demands simply will not have a place. How exciting is that?!


How Can We Be More at Home With Ourselves? Practice, Practice, Practice!

Anders Ericsson from Florida State University has studied experts in a variety of domains and come to the conclusion that what they all share is having devoted 10,000 hours to their craft. This research indicates that mastery requires not just interest, not just passion, but lots and lots of practice. Likewise with self-discovery. To be the master of your own soul, to bring your most heartfelt desires to life, you need to create opportunities for growth and you need to take full advantage of these opportunities to exercise your self-awareness muscles. So how do start putting in those hours? To get you started here are a few ideas for fostering active self-discovery.

  • Watch a funny video on – think about what aspects of life you are taking too seriously and how you might relax, add laughter, and lighten your outlook
  • Play with a pet – watch Fido fetch or Kitty playing with yarn, think about the last time you were totally engaged in something for the sheer joy of it and ponder how you might generate more of that kind of energy
  • Compose a gratitude letter – reflect on the nice things in life, think about how savoring the good times helps put difficulties into perspective and serves as a reminder that there is more to life than hassles and problems
  • Celebrate a job well done or a risk taken –pause and take a moment to feel pride in your achievement knowing you did it even if the outcome is less than perfect
  • Examine your priorities – contemplate your long and short term commitments and think about the match (or mismatch) of these to what you value and consider how shifting some of them may allow you to live your life with greater authenticity and congruence
  • Cultivate a positive attitude –increase your confidence in the face of adversity by accepting what you cannot change and choosing to be optimistic and enthusiastic about what you can

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Keep a journal in which you log your self-discovery practice, create an archive in which to file your development gains, and/or share with friends the growth related actions and insights you are experiencing. Establish a self-discovery routine – honor who you really are by “exercising” your uniqueness!