The Importance of Saying “No”

If you’ve learned anything about improvisation, you’ve heard that the words “yes, and” are the key to being skilled in improvisation.

Life itself is like a game of improv. But the only difference is that if you say “yes, and” to everything that comes in your way, you find yourself having no time to say “yes, and” to your needs. Now it’s time to pull out a magic little word to help you: “no.”  

Does this sound familiar? You said yes to going out with your friends this weekend. You also said yes to taking on the largest workload in your group project for one class. You said yes to catching up with your friends and family from home over FaceTime. You also said yes to an unpaid internship while agreeing to help your roommate study for their exam. 

We put pressure on ourselves to say yes to everything to feel valid all the roles we take on in our lives. But is it worth the trouble if it gives us no time to take care of ourselves and evaluate what we want to invest for ourselves in the time we have? It starts with realizing that your time is valuable, and it’s not something that should be given out to just anybody. Saying no to something means you can say yes to something else that you can devote more of yourself to. Choosing what to say yes to also means putting yourself first: something that can feel selfish or impolite. 

The moment I realized that being a nice person was not synonymous with being a doormat, many things changed for me. I used to avoid confrontation. It was always easier to say yes to what everyone else wanted to make their lives more comfortable. Yet, I felt myself getting more mentally exhausted and frustrated than ever. Those feelings included requests other people made of me, and the way people treated me in general. It’s one thing to be selfless, but it’s another thing to evaluate what everyone else wants before yourself. I realized what I was doing wasn’t what I really wanted deep down. 

So I started saying ‘no’. I didn’t give myself out to everyone and everything. I realized what and who I felt passionate about, and felt like I was able to pour more of myself into what I wanted to. I always have to remind myself that choosing my own time and peace of mind over being considered “selfless” or “polite” is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something that empowers me evaluate who I am, where I stand, and what I want. 

Images: 1/2/3