Learning to Say “NO”

When I reflect on the idea of independence in a previous phase of my life, I never connected it with the simple word “no.” Through my 20s and most of my 30s, I found myself engaged in an ongoing internal struggle. Every time I encountered this word, I would be torn, uncertain whether saying it was a good or bad choice in the current moment. My inner dialogue often sounded like, “If I say no, could it potentially harm the other person?” or “This isn’t my personal preference, but it means a lot to them, so I suppose I’ll go along with it,” or even “Though I lack any genuine interest in this, I should be more sociable, so I guess I’ll agree,” and so forth.

You get the point; saying no was extremely difficult for me. To this day, I still have moments where I will say “yes” when I actually want to say “no”, but I approach it day by day, and with each instance of uncertainty, I gain knowledge and continue to progress and grow.

Teaching yourself to say no requires self-awareness and assertiveness. Start by understanding your priorities and limits, and recognize that saying no is not a rejection of others but a choice to protect YOUR time and energy. Practice assertive communication, be polite but firm, and offer concise explanations if necessary. You can also buy some time by saying you need to check your schedule; this has helped me on many occasions.

Discovering the advantages of practicing the art of refusal is transformative in the most positive sense. Personally, the greatest reward I experience when I confidently say “no” is an overwhelming sense of joy. This joy stems from a harmonious blend of newfound freedom, enlightenment, and empowerment.

Below, you’ll find several advantages that may come your way as you master the art of saying no for your own well-being:

The Advantages

  • Setting Boundaries: Saying no helps you establish and communicate your personal boundaries. It ensures you’re not overextending yourself or taking on more than you can handle.
  • Reducing Stress: You lower your stress levels by declining commitments that you can’t realistically fulfill. You have more time and energy for the things that truly matter to you, AKA joy!
  • Prioritizing Self-Care: Saying no allows you to prioritize self-care and well-being. It’s an essential aspect of maintaining good physical and mental health.
  • Time Management: When you say no to non-essential tasks or obligations, you free up time for the things that align with your goals and priorities.

  • Enhancing Productivity: Focusing on fewer commitments enables you to dedicate more time and attention to each task, making you more effective and productive.
  • Improving Relationships: Saying no when necessary, can lead to better and more honest communication in your relationships. It prevents you from feeling resentful or overwhelmed, which can strain connections.
  • Empowering Yourself: Learning to say no is empowering. It allows you to take control of your life and make choices that align with your values and goals.
  • Boosting Self-Esteem: As you gain confidence in your ability to set boundaries and prioritize your well-being, your self-esteem and self-respect can improve.

  • Avoiding Burnout: Saying no can help prevent burnout, as you avoid taking on too much and exhausting yourself physically and emotionally.
  • Focusing on Personal Growth: When you have the freedom to say no, you can direct your energy towards personal growth, learning, and pursuing your passions.
  • Maintaining Work-Life Balance: It allows you to maintain a healthier work-life balance, crucial for overall happiness and satisfaction.
  • Preserving Your Energy: By saying no to energy-draining or unfulfilling commitments, you conserve your energy for the activities and people that truly matter to you.

Final Thoughts

The ability to say “no” and the concept of independence are closely interconnected because the former is a fundamental aspect of the latter. In simpler terms, saying “no” is a way to assert your independence. Independence involves the ability to make autonomous decisions and take control of one’s life. When you can confidently say “no,” you exercise your autonomy by setting boundaries, making choices aligned with your values and priorities, and taking charge of your time and energy. Saying “no” empowers you to assert your needs, preferences, and personal space, which are crucial elements of leading an independent and self-determined life. In essence, saying “no” is a tool that enables you to define and defend your independence.

Saying “no” takes time and practice, so be patient with yourself. It is a valuable skill that can help you lead a more balanced, fulfilling, and stress-free life. It empowers you to prioritize what’s important and nurtures your well-being and personal growth.

Brianna Cabel, LPN

Licensed Practical Nurse

I’ve been closely involved with the Alberta healthcare system for the past eight years. I began my journey as a housekeeper at the Red Deer Hospital, progressed through various administrative positions, and eventually realized my desire for further growth; this led me to pursue a nursing degree at Red Deer Polytechnic, resulting in my graduation as a Licensed Practical Nurse in 2022.

I came to a realization quite early in my nursing program that I was drawn to a holistic approach to working with individuals. Moreover, I aspired to shift people’s perspectives from merely managing symptoms to embracing preventative health practices. Because of this viewpoint, I am beyond thrilled to be given the chance to join Brianne and her team at The Holistic RN & Company. Here, I am empowered to shape my career not only towards preventive health but also holistic well-being.

My nursing background involves working with individuals with substance abuse and complex mental health concerns. This means dealing with various problems that come with these struggles, such as losing one’s sense of self, severed relationships, and difficulties finding and using the resources needed to lead a healthy, independent life. Being in this field has given me time with clients to truly hear their stories, thoughts, and disparities, fueling my drive to bridge the gap between Western medicine and holistic care.

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Hi, I’m Brianne

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