Updated: Feb 28
From the youngest age we’re taught to be polite and agreeable. We dare not be selfish and hold onto our toys. And of course we comply. We may grumble, but inevitably, we comply. We have to. After all, our survival depends on it! At school this all continues and gets even worse. Public shaming and disciplinary action is threatened when we dance to our own rhythm, so we comply because there is literally nothing worse than public shaming when you’re a youngster. The odd bit of rebellion may be tolerated and may even be in vogue, but all round mutiny is only for the brave [or stupid].
Of course by the time we head off to the great big land of work, we are splendidly conditioned to be nice even if it kills us. We plaster on a fake smile and not only do we say ‘yes’ when we’re dying to say ‘WHO ME? HELL NO!’; we very politely enquire ‘Is there anything else?’ And of course there always is. And our fates are sealed.
Our compliance creates long, dreary days consumed with unrewarding work that snuff the life right out of us. Quickly we master the art of busyness and learn to live for weekends and holidays. Come Monday, we return our lives to its box where it hibernates until the next TGIF.
What if things could be different? What if we were able to do work that fulfilled us? What if we could bring into focus the things that mattered most to us? How amazing could that be?
Well, what if we simply said ‘no’ sometimes? Sure, someone will be taken aback, maybe even upset. Occasionally, someone may even be downright enraged by our ‘no’. Almost certainly, everyone will survive.
By saying ‘no’ to someone else, we create the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to something important in ourselves. We give ourselves the chance to re-grow and to replenish a part of ourselves that makes us stronger, smarter, more wholesome and just all round better. In the long run, even the person we said ‘no’ to benefits.
Boundaries are critical to a healthy and fulfilling life. Each and every single one of us is responsible for our own boundaries. And the building block of our boundaries is that short, simple, two-letter word: ‘NO’. When last did you use that simple word as an instrument to opt out into your own well-being and life?
Where in your life could you use ‘no’ to recover some of yourself and to put you back into the driving seat of your own life? I know the very thought makes you nervous, but why not try it? It might work; and you may like it.
Let me know how it goes.