For most of us, the demands of our external lives seem to grow by the day and we often feel exhausted, depleted and worn down by the time our head hits the pillow. One big reason for this is because it can be so difficult to say no.
I’ve come to find that a common belief is that if someone is on a spiritual path, they have to say yes to everything – to every opportunity, to new experiences, to networking or social events. I have even heard the quote, “yoga is the art of saying yes.” Well, I couldn’t disagree more! Sometimes the most inspired, spiritual, beneficial thing we can do is say no – and to do so with love.
This is an important topic, because if we are over-committing ourselves, the energy that we bring forth to our obligations is low-level, depleted and does not set us up for success.
In my life, lovingly saying no is a constant, conscious practice that brought up a lot of fear in the beginning. I was afraid that if I couldn’t handle everything that was being thrown my way, it might mean that I wasn’t good enough, and I was terribly afraid of disappointing others. Because I was saying that I could do things that I didn’t have the energy for, I couldn’t put forth the focus or the effort that was needed anyway, and I wound up feeling tired and resentful. Eventually, I found that if I couldn’t serve and support myself first, I couldn’t serve or support others, which is ultimately my greatest purpose.
In the beginning, I even shared with family and friends my new practice. When the time eventually came to say no to them, they understood and I had their support. They appreciated that I could be honest, while doing what was best for me, and the sentiment remained lighthearted.
Although you may be met with disappointment from time to time when you use the word “no,” it is also very likely that others will appreciate your honesty and support you for staying true to yourself, and for being fair to them. When we say yes to something we don’t really want to do, the other person can often pick up on it anyway!
The ego can sometimes equate saying yes, and taking on more (and more and more) in life, to self-worth – when this could not be farther from the truth! Knowing your worth means knowing when to step back and take time for yourself. Observe whether your sense of value correlates with how much you can take on, and if this is so, it’s a good time to recalibrate.
Not sure whether to say yes or no? Pay close attention to what your body is telling you. Does the idea of saying yes make you feel expansive and excited? Or do you feel tight and constricted? That tightness is often the body’s way of pushing off an idea that deep down, we know isn’t right.
Bring your awareness to your body’s response and use this as a guide for which opportunities to accept and which to lovingly decline.
This week, I invite you to gently practice saying no. This can come about in very small ways or in more significant instances. Practicing saying no, from a place of love, will create more space and energy for you to back up your other commitments and to be more present. Declining certain social obligations will help you to further enjoy the ones that you keep!
Questions or thoughts on this practice? Drop me a line, I love hearing from you.
Lots of Love,