Two of the simplest words in the English language are ‘yes’ and ‘no.’
They form the basis of a lot of our conversations every day and guide the course of our lives.
For many years of my life, I’ve been driven to say ‘yes’ to as many experiences and opportunities as I can. I always saw the chance to do more – and be more – as crucial to my development.
In fact, my recent adventures and experiences this year have all been driven by me saying ‘yes’ to life and getting out of my comfort zone.
However, there is another side to life that we often neglect or avoid: the times where we need to say ‘no.’
‘No’ seems to have a negative connotation to it. When someone says ‘no’ to us, it often triggers a feeling of rejection. As a result, we tend to avoid situations where we might hear ‘no,’ and we keep ourselves inside a comfort zone that we know will serve up a lot of ‘yes.’
However, hearing or saying ‘no’ in our lives can be a blessing in disguise.
Not everything we do, not everyone we are exposed to, is good for us. Sometimes things that used to serve us can start to limit us in some way. It’s in these times that we must have the courage to say ‘no’ and to move on.
I have experienced a lot of ‘no’ in my business life and my personal life. I have been dumped, fired, and rejected many times. It’s not easy, but it comes with the territory of being an actualizer.
I am somewhat used to hearing ‘no’ in many situations and have built up a sense of resilience that has helped me soldier on.
Lately, however, I have experienced a twist on this situation.
I have had to say ‘no’ to a few circumstances in my life that I knew were no longer serving me. Although there was some value there, staying in that situation had started to limit my growth.
Saying ‘no’ was a good reminder that you need to let go of some things to find something better.
I remember years ago learning about the concept of ‘Zero-based thinking’ from the speaker and writer Brian Tracy. He explained the idea this way:
“Knowing what I now know, is there anything that I am doing today that I wouldn’t start again if I had to do it over?”
Recently I revisited one of Brian’s audio programs, and I heard this idea again. As soon as I did, I had to admit there were several situations in my life that knowing what I now knew; I wouldn’t get into again. As hard as it was, I had to say ‘no’ to certain situations and people who were starting to hold me back in my life.
I have always been much more of a ‘yes’ person than a ‘no’ person. But there are times in life where ‘no’ is much healthier than continuing.
I am starting to see that saying ‘no’ leads to a healthier, more fulfilling life long-term.
Life is not linear nor simple. If you just accept what is in front of you and don’t push for more, you will live a very limited life.
What I have learned lately is that saying ‘yes’ to everything can trap you. You end up living in a mediocre, unfulfilling situation most of the time.
Yet, if you have the courage to say ‘no,’ then you are opening yourself up to better situations, better people, and a better version of who you are.