The other day, a friend asked me to host an event at my home to promote her business. I didn’t want to. Why? Because it’s not good timing; it’s a lot of work; I’m busy; I have a lot going on in my world…all the reasons! But I didn’t want to tell her all of this, not any of it. I just wanted to say no. But of course, what I ended up saying was, “Let me think about it.”
Why do we do this to ourselves?
This issue is not only common, but specifically prevalent with women. What’s perhaps even more
astonishing is its commonality amongst busy women. Why do we think we always have to say yes to
everything? And on the off chance we do say no, why do we think we need a laundry list of justifications to make it “okay?”
Somewhere along the line, we’ve learned that if our answer is no, there has to be a good reason. In fact, there must be many of these good reasons. And we must share all of them.
Does this challenge our respect for ourselves, the perceived respect toward others, or is it just an inability to set our own time as a priority? We are starting to hear more about how difficult yet
necessary it is to enforce our boundaries- to trust our gut. Brené Brown reminds us that “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” Compassion does not require you to sacrifice your freedom to choose. In so many cases, we put our true feelings on the back burner because they seem like the wrong answer. That’s exactly what I had done.
Upset with myself and caught in my own uncertainty, I called another friend of mine. The next step in this unfortunate cycle was to seek validation. And she told me what a true friend would say: “Anita, you don’t need me to tell you that you can simply say no and have that be enough.”
“No” is enough. Wow. So powerful in its simplicity that you would assume it’s common sense. And now
that I thought about it, it really was. When I ask for a favor, I understand the possibility of a “no.” Why
wouldn’t I grant myself the same option?
Anita Knotts is a highly accomplished senior financial executive, TEDx speaker, and founder/CEO of Lotus Women’s Institute, a company working passionately to bring more women into the wealth management industry.