When you say “No!” to people, groups, and institutions you separate yourself from them. It hurts. It divides, but it also frees you to define yourself, to open doors, and to say “yes” to specific opportunities and relationships that you desire to cultivate.
Saying “no” makes your “yes” more powerful and fulfilling. It shows who you are as an individual. No’s define you. No, that is not me. No, I don’t believe in that. No, I think this way, but I still respect you.
Some people have a hard time saying “no” to things and people that may be good, but they are not what they want in their lives.
If you say “yes” out of fear that people will reject you if you don’t agree, then that weakens your “yes.”
People know it if we are not fully committed even if we are saying “yes.” Our actions and attitudes give us away through showing resentment, being slow or late, or clear disrespect; it can be passive aggressive.
Yes, there are times when we need to lay down what we want, and should go along with things we would like different for the good of the whole group. That is part of being in community, which is essential, but to have a voice in the community you need a “no!”
For example, I enjoyed a fun group of friends after college, and we had great fun and prayer meetings. After a couple years, things started getting strange, I didn’t feel safe anymore, so I stood up to the group, challenged them, and decided to leave. I was just starting to learn how to have a “no,” so I fumbled and didn’t do it very well. I hurt people through my “no,” but I started learning how to protect myself, and I started learning how to work through things.
It takes inner fortitude to stand up to people and be honest and say what you really mean. Where does this inner fortitude come from? It comes through practice, and through learning who you are, so that you know your values and can stand up for yourself since you are the one who knows where you begin and end.
If all you have said in the past is “yes,” then when you start saying no, you are letting people know you in a new level. You are defining and knowing yourself more deeply. You may create some waves, but the real relationships will survive. You need to have a “no” to be able to be healthy and have real relationships.
Having a “no” will help you choose a life for yourself, and you will not just float wherever. Expressing your “no” will help you be a better friend, family member, and person.
Resource to help you develop your “No”:
by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend