Sometimes the biggest changes in our lives are from saying no, not from saying yes

Have you experienced the struggle of not wanting to agree to a friends request before? If so, I bet you’d agree that it is often a choice between pleasing people, or letting yourself down.

I’ve recently realised how powerful the word “no” can be.  Last week, I watched Dr. Caryn Aviv’s TEDx talk and she really inspired me. She proposed that “people look for the affirmation and acceptance in other people instead of inside themselves”. The key word “themselves” makes the difference. I know that many people, including me, are always seeking approval from others in our daily life, but I’d never considered the importance of attaining goals within myself.

Video: Dr. Caryn Aviv at TEDx

First, when you become determined to say no to something you don’t want to do, you have actually already overcome your fear of disappointing others. This is a huge change in your life, as it is a first step towards self acceptance. Gradually, your self-confidence and self-value will be enhanced, since you clearly understand what you want and what you don’t want.

Do you remember how simple your childhood was? When we were young, we just followed our hearts. Saying yes to the sweets we loved, saying no to the toys we didn’t like… So why as adults can’t we take time to think about ourselves more often? It’s that simple!

Saying no will help you to find your true self. I bet many of you have been in a moment with a huge desire to turn down a request and have some ‘me’ time, especially during deadline season. When you are alone, you’ll discover what you really love to do. That maybe as simple as knitting a scarf and cooking a meal for your family, or even sitting on a sofa and reading a book that you haven’t had time to read before. Saying no to others sometimes gives you a long absent joy in return.

I recognise that I have to be my real self to live my own life. Not the me who pleases others by making myself the last priority. I’m not trying to persuade you never to take others’ into consideration, but just to remember not to ignore your own needs. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re rude, it’s a way to understand yourself more.

Man Ting Yu