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  • Kim Smith, M.Ed

The Power of "No"

It’s quite common that a child’s first word outside of “ma-ma” or “da-da” is “no”. The reason being that it is mostly what you hear at young age. Developmentally toddlers mirror what they see or hear. “No, don’t eat that thing off the floor”, “No, my phone does not go in your mouth”, “No, you are not allowed drink mommy’s wine.” Why I chose all oral examples, I don’t know, maybe a Freudian slip, will unpack that later lol. The point being, children hear “no” all the time because they have to, it is how they are taught proper boundaries that progress them into a healthy adult life, or just you know keep the baby alive. However, sometime around adolescent years Parents seem to backtrack on the healthy boundaries they have set. Suddenly, “No” becomes a sign of disrespect or not being mindful of other’s needs. Suddenly, saying “no” means your selfish or just being difficult. To that my mostly therapeutic response is, “NO! STOP THAT SHIT!”

There is power in saying “No” to people or situations that negatively impact your overall wellbeing. I am referring to that toxic friend, family member, or significant other who seems to just take and take from you in some way shape or form, without giving anything to you in return. Or maybe the social setting that triggers so much anxiety that you can no longer enjoy a moment. Maybe it’s that social setting that challenges years of recovery. Maybe it’s just having a busy and/or overwhelming day or week and needing to stay home and recharge and recover even though your friends want to meet up. Whatever the case may be, It’s ok to say “No”. Doing so is not dismissing your want to help others or denying someone else in need. It’s simply saying in this particular moment in time, I need to prioritize me.

I will say that even when reclaiming this "power of no" try not to go to the complete opposite extreme. If you are saying no out of personal well being absolutely, but if you are saying it out of fear of change or stubbornness you are stunting your own growth into your true self. “Who the fuck you think you are Kim, I done things my way all this time with no problem?” Ok, but are you satisfied? Are you fulfilled? Are you happy? If so then, this site isn’t for you. I am equally challenging my own patterns as much as yours. We are on this journey together. To do so is recognizing the ways of thinking or being that are holding you back from the best version of yourself. I personally am definitely the person who needs to remind themselves on regular basis of “the power of no”. Call it an occupational hazard. As a therapist my calling is to help people through some of the most difficult moments in their life. I love that aspect of my job and wouldn’t have it any other way. But if you saw my first post outlining the unfortunate year I’ve had (The Inspiration#shamelessplug) you can imagine that my emotional headspace comes in waves. I had to and still am in flux of reminding myself that if I am not good within myself, I cannot help my clients in the way they deserve or on the level I want to.

The reality is if you are too loose with your no’s you are blocking the chance for potentially new and amazing experiences. Likewise, if you don’t say no enough you simply aren’t valuing yourself. So… NO! STOP THAT SHIT! Reclaim the Power of “No”, put yourself first as needed.


Questions? Comments? Concerns? Let’s keep the dialogue going. For starters, What situation or person do you find it most difficult so say “No” to and why? Comment below.

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