No is not negative. It’s simply an answer to a question. I’ve noticed in our modern age Yes is seen as positive, as the best response and as the only socially acceptable response. However, these are only perceptions driven by our culture and the “say yes to life” self-help gurus. No can be nice!
Part of our yoga practice includes living by the guiding principals of the yamas and the niyamas.
The very first one on the list is Ahimsa (compassion). I can’t tell you how many times I see my friends, family and yoga teachers burnt out because they can’t say no to and invitation or request. Ahimsa includes being compassionate to yourself. Saying No to an invitation or request when you already have a full plate is the absolute best way to conserve your energy and heath. Isn’t that nice?
Ok so, what do you do when you know the person making the request is going to feel hurt and put out by your No? All I can say is remember that you are responsible in choosing your own feelings and so is the requester. If they are hurt it has everything to do with their choice and nothing to do with you. When someone says no to our request we almost always take it personally, making up stories like “they don’t like me, they don’t like so and so or they don’t like this or that”. Don’t be that person! When someone says No instead of jumping to this self-centered view remember they are a human being separate from you and there are millions of reasons why they said No.
Moving on to another important principal Satya (Truth). In my experience this is one of the hardest for humans. If we are not making white lies to our family, we are lying to ourselves. When you are honest to a friend telling them No it is much better for your soul than saying Yes and either canceling last minute, canceling via text or showing up with only 50% of yourself. Saying No is nice because you have honoured your truth and you don’t have to feel bad about leaving a relationship ambiguous. Those little white lies drag your soul down and build up over time. Saying No is a way to honour your own truth by doing activities that you truly want to be doing. You don’t have to lie to yourself and say “I want to do this because I should”. Instead you can live life fully by aligning your heart desires with your external actions. This is the deepest meaning of truth.
No is nice. I hope you can begin to use No as a way to a happier life and relationships. So next time you ask me to tea I might say yes, I might say no, but either way we are both happy.