“I want to be able to do that,” he said to me as we sat there, “feel the repulsion and say no so quickly.”
“Yeah,” I laughed, “turns out it makes a big difference.”
I laughed because claiming my no inside relationships is fairly new to me.
Many months ago I was sitting in my therapist’s office working through some pieces of my relationship trauma when she told me to look her square in the eye and say, “no, stop it.”
This woman is the only therapist I’ve ever liked. Part coach, part somatic healer, part goddess-card-pulling-therapist. She watched me disappear inside a relationship that destroyed me… as well as helped me come back to life after it ended. I trust her more than I can put into words, but I couldn’t look her in the eyes and say, “no, stop it.”
It was a skill I simply didn’t have anymore.
Because of all the times my no didn’t matter… because of all the times not giving people what they wanted meaning I would get hurt or I’d pay for years… because once, which is more than enough times, my saying no was a factor in someone else dying.
Not long ago though, I reclaimed my no.
First I said no to someone I was dating—that I really liked—the moment I realized he was showing up in a way I’ve chosen to no longer tolerate.
Then I said no to a team member—who I’d literally just hired—the moment I realized she hadn’t been honest and forthcoming with me until far too late in the game.
And finally, I said no to a client—a very important one—who asked me to compromise and devalue myself and my worth in a way that I simply wasn’t willing to do.
Those three back to back no’s shifted something for me. Suddenly, in random moments, all my unspoken no’s started tumbling out. At the grocery store, driving to appointments, walking around my house. Out of nowhere and for no particular reason, they just kept spilling out of my mouth.
“Hell. Frickin. No.”
I found my no, my anger, my boundaries, my voice. And they weren’t soft or subtle in any way. They were strong and mighty. Solid and certain. No, absolutely not, I will not tolerate that.
We talk a lot about getting clear on what we want, being unapologetic about our desires, and visualizing what we’re creating… but that’s not the full conversation. Those things are incredibly important, don’t get me wrong.
But if you can’t claim your no, none of it matters.
If you can’t claim your no, you’ll constantly self-compromise. Your boundaries will constantly be crossed and disregarded. You’ll find yourself saying yes to what you don’t even want. If you can’t claim your no, you’ll never create a clean container in which what you desire can materialize.
Learning to say no—clearly, consistently, unapologetically—is as important as learning to say HELL YES.
The Spiritually Bypassing Gurus will tell you not to focus on what you don’t want, because that will just energize it… which, no, don’t dwell on it… but you can’t get clear on what you DO want, without being able to clearly define your boundaries, what you’ll no longer tolerate, and where your HELL FRICKIN NO is. Without also being able to define what you DON’T want.
Reclaiming my no has shifted so much for me… in my work, relationships, and health. It was terrifying at first, yet comes so much more easily to me these days.
What do you need to say no to?