“A dishonest yes is a no to yourself.” Byron Katie
How many times have you lied to yourself by saying yes when you truly meant no – and why is that one tiny word so hard for many of us to say?
Let’s take a glimpse into this phenomenon: We evolved to live in cooperative societies, and for most of human history our lives depended on belonging to a group. Like hunger or thirst, our need for acceptance evolved as a survival mechanism. Tribe members shared the workload and protected each other from threats.
Belonging was essential. “This need is deeply rooted in our evolutionary history and has all sorts of consequences for modern psychological processes.” says C. Nathan DeWall, PhD, psychologist, University of Kentucky.
In fact, scientists have found that social rejection activates many of the same brain regions involved in physical pain (Science, 2003).
In today’s world, when we choose to say yes when we really want to say no, we are engaging in needless mental and emotional conflict.
This inborn fear of rejection may keep us stuck in subtle self -sabotaging patterns that can interfere with our body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Instead of keeping us safe, the need for approval can actually threaten our health and well-being.
We fear rejection, and the body’s stress response becomes activated leading to elevated blood pressure and heart rate, increased muscle tension and compromised immune function-which over time often lead to chronic illness and pain.
To heal, or become whole,
we must cultivate self- kindness.
Years ago I realized that I was totally invested in the practice of making excuses instead of just saying no. I would always find some half-baked (albeit plausible) story to explain why I “couldn’t” attend a function or serve on a committee, etc. etc. I was unwilling to risk losing the approval of people I barely knew – and why did I even believe I would be rejected?
I took a slip of paper and wrote “I am tired of making excuses for what I say and do” and kept it in my wallet for years. This act revealed my budding awareness of how my choices were really out of alignment with my own truth.
Little did I know that this subtle form of self- betrayal was feeding an escalating war within myself culminating in years of chronic pain and anxiety.
I finally learned to lower my unrealistic expectations for myself and others; my body began to relax, relationships become easier, and I experienced greater safety and trust in all areas of life.
When we practice saying no from the place of self- kindness and acceptance, we promote our natural tendencies to heal.
Stay true to yourself. Say yes to yourself.
Experience the healing power of NO!