“No” is a complete sentence.
When was the last time you said “YES” to yourself by saying “No”?
Often as I work with people going through a separation, I am amazed at what their marriages have cost them.
(I am not referring to finances, which is probably what comes to mind first when we think of a marriage breakdown.
Or the chattels.
Or the social costs.
Or the legal bills.
Or the costs of setting up two homes after sharing costs in one)
I am referring, in this blog, to giving up:
Who they are.
What they like and dislike.
What their passions and dreams are.
What they enjoy doing and where they enjoy going.
Most excitement has left them as they struggle to just get by.
So many people reach a point in their marriage that they no longer know who they are or what makes them happy.
They are so involved supporting the relationship, the family, their partner, that their own identity has all but disappeared.
They have no spark left. No passion. No joy.
Personally, I know this lacklustre way of being too well. I was definitely once in a similar place as my own marriage was ending.
Probably the biggest problem was that I had stopped practicing healthy boundaries, saying “No” when I was uncomfortable, in an attempt to save my relationship.
Say “YES” to yourself by saying “NO”!
Loving someone doesn’t mean saying “yes” to whatever the other person wants. The basis of loving someone else is to know yourself and to know what you need. I know a woman who suffered very much because she couldn’t say “no”. From the time she was young, whenever a man asked her for something, she felt she had to say “yes” even when she didn’t want to. It’s important that loving another person doesn’t take priority over listening to yourself and knowing what you need. “ – Thich Nhat Hanh in How to Love.
I believe that saying “Yes” when you want to say “No” is when our own behaviour starts to fail us in our relationships.
“No” is a complete sentence.
You do not need to justify how you feel or why you say “No”.
This is one of the big reasons, I believe, that marriages fail.
We give away too much of ourselves.
We give too much of ourselves to our partners.
We expect too much of our partners in return too.
We are often disappointed with our partners because they do not think, feel and act as we want them to.
We expect to become one and live up to every expectation both parts of a couple have.
This is not how healthy relationships work.
In healthy relationships, we should remain ourselves and enjoy and support each other, being who we really are. None of the merging and the pleasing and the saying “Yes” when our guts twist up and we want to say “No”.
I really believe we give away a bit of relationship satisfaction each time we do not truly say what and how we feel.
Avoiding conflict may seem like a good idea BUT it usually just makes more issues that are even harder to work out.
Communication gets more difficult as our truths are hidden and buried inside ourselves deeper and deeper.
You do not need to be aggressive. Just be assertive and speak your truth. No need to belittle, no need to convince, no need to be correct.
If it is something you need – then it is important to you and no one else can tell you it isn’t.
Simple as that – it is important to you so do not let it slide.
Couples do not have to agree – you just need to understand and respect each other’s positions.
Speak up and see how it feels.
Stop justifying. Stop explaining. Stop making excuses. Just decline. A simple “No” can work.
Be gentle but firm.
Be loving and understand with empathy.
Practice setting your boundaries and enjoy the opportunities to discuss issues in your relationships.
No need to tell others what to do – just tell them what you need and what you need to do.
Listen. Listen with curiosity and learn. Listen for the deeper truths to start to come out. Listening is something many people forget to do well.
Start any new relationships off on strong a footing as you venture into love again, by saying how you feel as soon as you feel uncomfortable.
Red flags, what I call those moments you feel uncomfortable in a relationship, are there because something is not right – examine your discomfort. Get clear on why it is uncomfortable and what you truly need.
Try saying “Yes” to yourself by saying “No” to others and see how it feels.
A gentle way to say “NO” is “Yes, I do understand that is what you want but I really have to say “no” because I need ________.
Also remember – new ways of communicating always take practice and perseverance! Practice, practice and practice some more until it is a habit.
Let me know how “No” works for you in the comments below.
Take good care of yourself!
The Separation Project Coach