When Is It Time to Say NO? - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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When Is It Time to Say NO?

Oct 06, 2015

When Is It Time to Say NO? 

I was seeing this cute video being passed around on WhatsApp. It was about a four-year-old girl vehemently saying NO to going to kindergarten.

Her mother was prepping her for the next phase of life. But all the girl kept saying was NO, and that she didn't want to go to kindergarten.

Watch the video to know what I'm saying...

It was easy for this four-year-old to say no. She felt absolutely no obligation to anyone. She was doing what kids do best - say NO.

She was also doing what we adults hesitate to do so often - say NO.

In the girl's case, she was just afraid of a new event in her life. She wasn't afraid of saying NO itself. But as we grow older, there is a fear in the very act of saying NO.

We fear we will be looked upon negatively, we fear we may lose out on something that appears momentarily positive or pleasurable, and we fear not being 'nice' or generous enough.

Some of our toughest decisions are those that require us to say NO...a loud, big, resounding NO.

A NO to what doesn't work...a NO to something that is a waste of time...a NO to an already dead relationship...a NO to a defunct way of life.

However difficult it may seem, you'll be surprised that saying NO has even more power than saying YES. Every time we say NO to something we don't want or don't believe in, we are automatically saying YES to something better.

Saying NO frees up your mind, your time and your life.

It's that moment in time when you decide to reclaim yourself, stand up for what you believe in, stop putting your energies where they are not appreciated and finally take stock of what works for you.

You heard me right. What works for you, and only YOU. Not to serve someone or something else. But that which serves you.

The world wants us to be giving of our time, money, and intelligence. It expects us not to be rigid or, the much-dreaded label for many, "selfish".

But the fact is that saying NO can be one of the most empowering acts for yourself and for others. Because if you don't have enough time, energy or any other resource for yourself, how will you give it to others?

So how do you decide when you should say NO and when you should say YES? How do you decide when it's an act of "selfishness" or one of "self-actualization" - the realization of the fact that something is going to add value to your life?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself before you decide to say NO:

Will it help you in the long run?

A simple way to calculate your opportunity cost - the cost you pay to do something - is to question whether it will not just help you today, but in the years to come. For example, if you are a diabetic and someone puts a pastry in front of you, and tells you "one last piece for friendship's sake", should you eat it or leave it? You could say YES, and temporarily please your friend. But in the long run, you will slowly be taking away your own good health and take some years off your life too.

For you: There is no middle ground when saying NO. If you want to preserve what you have and for a very long time, get ready to do it at all times and with everyone.

Will it come in the way of your goals?

You're studying for that important entrance exam. You know you need to give it all the time and attention you can. It's imperative you clear and you clear with good marks. In comes your younger sister and asks you to take her for a movie. You know she's bored and she wants you to give her company, but you have a clear goal in front of you. If you're feeling bad to tell her NO outright, simply say: "We'll do it another day, the movie will run for a while, but I have just one shot at these exams."

For you: The sooner you focus on your goals, the easier it is to say NO to anything that comes in the way, especially temporary diversions or distractions that only take you away from its completion.

Does it reflect the common good?

This is really simple but we tend to complicate it. You may think you're being morally uptight when you have to decide keeping this in mind, but it can help prevent a lot of unpleasant incidents. For instance, if your friend was too drunk to drive but still insisted on driving, would you agree to go along or politely say NO and hail a cab? The former could make your friend momentarily bitter, but the latter would be beneficial for your own life and you would consciously not be party to endangering the lives of others. It would also show your friend how seriously this issue concerns you. In your own way, the stand you take will serve the larger good.

For you: When you have to say no just for yourself it can get a little taxing. But keeping the general well-being of all in mind, can make it a simpler and more impactful decision.

Does it make you feel lighter?

Have you ever felt extremely exhausted by saying YES all the time? Being everywhere and being everything to everyone is a feeling that can weigh you down tremendously. And then you realise that the minute you say NO, your energy is back, it's like one big dark cloud has been lifted off. This normally happens when we are saying YES to what is not aligned to our values or beliefs. This also happens when we are neglecting our own well-being and purely thinking of the other.

For you: If you get more energy and feel uplifted when you say NO, you've made the right decision. Anything you don't need blocks energy for what you do need...clear the space, say NO and feel better.

Saying NO is hard for all of us, but it's not impossible. The more you exercise this option, the more you'll see your life turnaround, you'll actually be doing stuff you enjoy and reaching your goals faster than you envisioned.

Image Source: new photo / Shutterstock


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12 Responses to "When Is It Time to Say NO?"

Satish sharma

17 Nov, 2015

Listening NO by others may not sound good often,but you have a choice.No or yes must be said after thinking the best possible way and not by impulse.

Ramachandran Santhanam

11 Oct, 2015

To say NO requires guts, confidence and clarity. Once you start the process, saying No for that extra food on your plate, is not that difficult. It becomes a habit; once formed it is easy to follow.

Ananda Rao

07 Oct, 2015

"Yes" or "No" words are viewed as ridiculous and blunt respectively. If we say "Yes" for every situation, the onlooker doubts the capacity to deliver. For "No" - The baby in the video is just blunt and the baby is too young to understand any of the circumstances described above. Words in writing may not create problems but in expression may create sour relations. The situation described for taking the little sister to a movie at the cost of studies is avoided in a diplomatic manner. Hence the expression of words should always be diplomatic as per the situations or circumstances. We know the well known anecdote shown in Hindi film "Anari" - an old lady can be considered and described mother or sister to everyone but not equating to a spouse, Amma in south, Didi in East, Behanji is North is taken with acceptance.

Like (1)

vinod kumar

07 Oct, 2015

When saying NO affects at individual level ,saying no is not difficult. In case saying No is going to affect others as in case of dead relationship it becomes difficult to decide.vinod kumar


06 Oct, 2015

I listen to the first voice in my heart.

Like (1)


06 Oct, 2015

Many times, we feel by saying NO might impact on relation and the avoid the courage and say YES and than repent why did I not say NO


06 Oct, 2015

S, to say is not as easy as saying 'yes'. In general everyone thinks saying 'no' is not nice, decent, palatable. But if it sediments to that, yes we have to say 'no', to keep you from subsequent sufferings. Some time back I had been working in a Non Banking Financial company. The going was good till such time that we find that we are left with a lot of dud accounts. That is the time we realised that we had been saying 'yes' to all and sundry loans in our eagerness to have an enviable portfolio. Then we realised that we should also say/tell 'No' when it deserves. Even there wad a compaign on this nd pin ups on the desk saying 'Learn to say NO'.


06 Oct, 2015

Really very beautiful explain about NO. YES or NO is one of the very simple, finest answer for own freedom. Before say YES or NO apply the brain on particular matter then result come based on Brain activity. Baby explain very beautiful NO NO behind her NO she need her own space, need own freedom, own space. Because children born for Bliss, Wisdom not for YES or NO. Thank you so much Ritika ji. Keep it up. Every body have their own baby heart, thru this you touch this baby heart. Thank you.

Like (1)

kamal agarwal

06 Oct, 2015

u need to understand the literature in a hard way and come out with common sense simple answer to say No. No means not in a ordinary way but in style and valid examples of arguments either from all walks of life or from literature,religious texts,now I have command over to say no to any one on any subject without a penny.

Like (1)

B B Raina

06 Oct, 2015

The article has been in line with my own working philosophy. I have never been afraid of saying NO when it is called for I believe saying no for good reasons helps you build your credibility. People call us negative if we develop the habit of saying NO to almost everything. Rgds

Like (1)

Jamnadas Dayah

06 Oct, 2015

We should say 'no' whenever it is necessary. Say 'yes' only when we are convinced.


06 Oct, 2015


Like (4)

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