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“A well-placed “No” can not only save you time and trouble, it can save your life”.

NO, NO...Yes, say it again, “NO”. No. A tiny, yet mighty word. To hear it can make us feel childlike; sheepish or in trouble. How does it make you feel to say “no”? Strong? Nervous? Guilty? Do you say it often enough?

For me I feel guilty and nervous but then the end result with too many “yeses’' is resentment and a revolving “negative headspace” bubble that is difficult to pop. And I ask myself why...and as always it is because of the fear of not being liked or valued. Additionally, being a business owner, this heightens as you think if I say “no”, will this impact my livelihood? How many can relate? Unfortunately, I am sure a lot of us can.

How can saying NO save your life?

If we don’t know how to manage this, in some cases, the result can be more severe than just resentment, it can lead to burnt out and even worse, deep depression and other mental illnesses. I have been here and setting boundaries has saved my life. I had burnt out at a former job as I could not say “no” as “I had something to prove”. My boss was critical and wanted “perfection”. Oh I gave him “perfection” but then I ended up on short term leave in which I suffered severe depression where I had some pretty dark thoughts. I was off for 6 months and I am better at saying “no” but still slip back into this pattern.

“We live in a society that does not glorify choosing yourself. It is not honoured,” says relationship therapist Nedra Tawwab, author of Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself. “We are constantly living in others’ headspace and not our own heart space. We’re thinking about what they might say or do; whether they’ll be angry, or whether setting a boundary will even end the relationship.” It is normal to care, “but when your life is impacted by not having healthy boundaries for yourself, we need to pay attention”, says Tawwab.


Extraordinary things happen.

As a result of CoVid, I lost 80% of my revenue. I have been really struggling with being in a negative headspace and attracting relationships that were not to my benefit. I have been slowly eliminating people who have not been respecting my boundaries. The result is yesterday, I managed to get three contracts, and have found great people who uplift me. I decided to say “no” to being disrespected by family and “friends”. I do not blame anyone as I allowed them to disrespect me and placing blame only continues the cycle.


When there are hierarchies of power – such as in the workplace – saying no can feel particularly difficult. But as the borders between work and the rest of our lives have become increasingly blurred, thanks to more people home-working, it is even more vital. “Research tells us that people who proactively state their boundaries, such as leaving or stopping work on time, taking leave or prioritizing non-work-related activities, are much better at managing their mental health,” says Dr Jo Yarker, an occupational psychologist, researcher and senior lecturer at Birkbeck University, London.


Ask yourself: “If I say YES to this, what am I saying NO to?”

It is hard to say NO for various reasons. A coach asked me to flip it to “If I say YES to this event/to this person etc., what am I saying NO to?”. I found this was helpful as then it became a choice and easier to say NO. For example the other day I wrote on my board “If I say yes to being distracted and not getting my Project A done today then I am saying no to enjoying a great weekend with friends kayaking and biking as I will not enjoy myself and feel the need to cancel to get my work done”. This in turn, got me to say NO to distractions. Or “if I say YES to being disrespected, I am saying NO to having healthy relationships”. Therefore in the past two weeks I have been saying “NO” to unhealthy relationships and as a result I have met some wonderful, supportive people who value me and respect me..

Check your environment:

Have you heard that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”? This also includes you are the average of the five books you read, the average of the 5 movies/Tv shows you are watching etc.? This means observing your environment and making sure you are “creating” the one you want. I have The Power Of No, The Power of Intention, Wired For Dating and National Geographic magazine on tigers in my living room. Why, I am focusing on developing my business and want to stay focused, a dating book so I don’t squirrel and wait for someone who will respect and value me and a book on tiger’s as they bring me joy.


Remember that saying no has to be treated like learning a new skill.. For example, say no to someone who you know 100% will not judge you and still respect you. From here, observe and control what you can. If someone says no to me, if I feel rejected, this is my issue and I usually can understand, they are not saying no to me, they are saying no to my idea etc. In a work situation try saying “I will call you back”,’ if you aren’t ready to speak to someone at that time. With practice, confidence does build.

Saying NO to Negative Statements Floating in Your Headspace

In the Power of No, it is recommended that when a negative situation pops into your head, whisper “no”, if it continues just keep saying no louder. This works for me and if I am on a walk, I am sure I look silly with saying “NO DENISE” but it works! This may not work so another suggestion is let it gently in and gently out (3 seconds in and the let go of it in 3 seconds).

“It can be hard, but honesty is a position to strive for. For any human being, learning when to say no can bring peace. And isn’t that something we all deserve?”


Power of No by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher

Article Written by Denise Young, WIL National Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and CEO and Consultant of Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group, a people-focused business solutions company that values collaboration and empowerment. She creates collaborative work spaces where “everyone is at the table”. She has a Bachelor of Management and a Masters of Arts in Communication and Technology from University of Alberta.

Reach out to Denise ( if you or your organization is interested in Diversity and Inclusion Programs, Leadership Workshops or Communication Strategic Planning

Connect with Denise:

LinkedIN: Denise Young





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