“Today, I said ‘no.’
A rush of adrenaline overwhelmed me.
I may try it again tomorrow.”
-An excerpt from Awakenings by Whitney McNulty
How often do we say no?
For some people, that seems to be their favorite word. They have no trouble clearing their throat and shouting very loudly: NO! However, for those of you out there who are like me, who was raised as a “yes man” and a people pleaser, “no” feels like such a dirty word. But I’ve been learning day by day how important that one little word can be in your self-love journey.
For the past few years, people have been constantly telling me, “just let it go.” Whether it was work related, a personal loss or had to do with relationships, they’d continue to yell this advice at me time and time again. Meanwhile, in my head I’m screaming “this isn’t Frozen, it’s not that easy!” Maybe it’s just me, but “just letting it go” proved to be quite a difficult task for me. Of course I wanted to (who wants to walk around with all that weight on their shoulders, right?) but I didn’t even know where to begin. But this past week, it finally clicked: in order to let go, I have to start saying no.
Last week was really hectic for me. It felt like I had a billion things to do and not enough time to do it. There was a particular event I had agreed to participate in, even though from the very beginning I knew that it would be a real inconvenience for me with everything else going on. However, after much back and forth, I said yes, once again putting others wants before mine. Fast forward to the day of the event, and needless to say my body gave out on me. Even though my back, knees, and shoulders said, “nah, we need a break,” my mind said otherwise. Even though one of my best friends told me I needed to slow down and take care of myself instead, I wouldn’t hear it.
It wasn’t until my mother said the same thing, but added in, “oh I forget, you never say no anyone,” that I actually considered canceling. That statement triggered something in me and reminded me that as much as I’ve grown and claim to love myself, I don’t always make the best decisions with myself in mind. So for once, I decided to put my physical health, mental and emotional well being first and cancelled. At first, my anxiety was overwhelming. But then a few moments later, I just breathed, accepted the decision I had made, and suddenly felt overcome with relief.
I chose me.
I chose to say no to a situation that was disturbing my peace.
I chose to say no to something that was going to put my health at risk.
I chose to say no to letting my anxiety get the best of me.
Yes, I chose to let go of the spiraling thoughts concerning what people might say or think as a result of my action.
I chose to let go of all expectations– self-imposed and otherwise.
I chose to value me.
So what does it really take to let go? I’d say it simply takes the willingness to make that decision. It requires actively and intentionally putting your well-being first. It requires being able to close your eyes, cancel out the noise and find peace in the chaos long enough to actually make self-serving decisions. I’m not saying to only ever think of yourself. But, I think in some way we always have to consider ourselves. And it takes time. It takes practice. It takes trial and error. Letting go is an art, and maybe you won’t master it overnight– but that is okay. Just like any new lifestyle change, it requires being consistent to create a new habit until it can become a way of life.
But it’s time.
It’s time that we start seeing ourselves as worthy of our own love.
It’s time that we start making the conscious decision to let go of all that extra baggage weighing us down.
It’s time that we release ourselves from our pasts, our mistakes, society’s standards, negative self-talk, limited thinking, toxic people/spaces, the mindset of lack, and fear.
Yes, it’s time that we start moving forward, fearlessly.
It’s time that we start saying no.
It’s time that we start letting go.