When I started attending therapy, one of the biggest topics I struggled with was simply saying “no”. And, not just to my therapist… but to my family, to my clients, strangers, my supervisor… the works. The thought of rejecting others just wasn’t in my character. There were times where I would sacrifice my comfort and my time to accept offers/duties that did not interest or serve me.
The root of my “no” issue stemmed from searching for validation from others and putting aside what I truly believed was fitting for me. Surprisingly, the biggest proponents of this complication were my immediate family. Our unique structure (being raised in a single-parent household) placed a large amount of responsibility on my shoulders. As the oldest of two children, I could never say “no”.
Now, as an adult, this habit is now embedded in my psyche.
I’m still working to combat the lack of “no” in my life. After the hour-long therapy sessions, the real work starts when you are faced with the real-life scenarios that force you to implement those fresh coping strategies. Like all beginnings: I started small. I started saying “no” to events I didn’t want to attend. I rejected “friend requests” on Facebook. I turned down collaborations from brands that did not align with my own image. Then, I escalated.
I finally got the courage to tell my family “no”.
And, it’s not something that I do on a daily basis – however, I do have to be selective in what I agree to. If a task can be delegated, I say “no” and proceed assign the endeavor to another relative or place the responsibility back on the asking party. Thus, taking the pressure off of me and allowing me to focus my time on something that breathes life into my purpose and my joy. With my job, I say “no” to extra tasks that clients may ask of me. Not for the sake of being lazy, but to protect my peace and to maintain firm work ethic. I refuse to be overwhelmed – heck, I’m already overworked.
Let me tell you- embracing this mindset has improved my time management, my prioritization and has allowed me to view life outside of the Superwoman lens.
One thing I had to learn was that you cannot be everything to everybody. Saying “no” does not make you a bad person nor does it make you difficult. It makes your fair. It allows you to search within yourself to withdraw that power to stand on what you believe in.
You will never please every single person in your circle. Folk will always have something to say, regardless. Why not do you in the process?
I’m still learning and I’m still growing. But, always remember: you are your greatest asset. Say “no” to protect your peace. Say “no” to counter anything that hinders you from realizing your ultimate potential. Say “no” to get back to you.
Photography Credit: Bi Be. Follow her on Instagram @Gau2708. She is a Houston-based photographer. Contact her via Direct Message (DM) for potential collaborations. She is a visionary.