Saying NO…Option, or Obligation?

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The following article was written by Dori Abbott, one of our Woman Within Eastern USA members.

Saying no to a family member, child, parent, teacher, neighbor, boss, customer, or coworker is usually uncomfortable. Most of us are addicted to YES and allergic to NO! And no matter how many times others remind us that we are doing too much, we just can’t seem to get our heads around it being okay to say NO. Some of that is from upbringing, social conditioning, being female, or just the gravity of being human. Bottom line is that it doesn’t matter why we feel compelled to say YES even when we know darn well we are pushing ourselves beyond our reasonable limits; what matters is that we re-learn some concepts about YES and NO.


First we should address the “it’s okay to say NO” theory. Just chuck that one out the window and replace it with, “It is my obligation to say NO most of the time. Why? Because saying YES compromises our ability to make our highest contribution. If we are conscious and know our life mission, then any time we say YES to something that is peripheral or tangential (not the main thing), then we are compromising our ability to be on mission in this world. Even if it is just for an hour, or a day, or a week. If you found out today that you were going to die this evening, you would (hopefully) not waste even a minute doing tasks for someone else that didn’t align with your highest spiritual mission on earth. And if you lived this way each and every day, you would say NO a lot more often to a lot more projects and a lot more people.

Second we should address the myth that saying YES benefits others. It doesn’t, so chuck that one out the window as well….most of the time. Once in a while there is truly a struggling person in need. One that can’t do for herself, and needs a boost to carry on her mission in life. That’s a YES situation provided it doesn’t take you off your mission. But most of the things others ask us to do are things that they can do for themselves. I was a high school teacher for many years, and I learned that the first “law of teaching” was: Never do for someone what they can do for themselves. I had to remind myself of that law every, single day. Even today as I was writing this article I was asked by my grown daughter to write out my grandson’s birthday invitations because my handwriting is better than hers. I love my daughter and I adore my grandson; but I am on mission today, and that mission doesn’t include addressing invitations for someone who is capable of doing it herself, no matter how flattering it may be to a messy left-hander like me who worked her whole childhood to have beautiful handwriting (another waste of time, but that is another topic for another day).

Lastly we should address the myth that others won’t like or respect us if we say NO to them. Chuck this one out the window as well. The fact is that that the perversity of human nature makes us want what we cannot have. So when others see our YES as a precious and rare commodity, they will respect it more. Further, they will respect that we are focused, disciplined, and passionate about our mission here on earth. NO is not an option. It is our responsibility and obligation most of the time. Let’s go practice saying it.