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Are you saying yes when you want to say no because you don’t want to disappoint someone? Or maybe because the other person is so persuasive you can’t successfully navigate to no? The decisions you make every day have a direct impact on your happiness. If you want to feel happier, find your voice — even when it’s to say no.

Think about it for a minute. When we were children, our parents, teachers, and elders made decisions for us. Do you remember how empowered you felt the first time you decided something all by yourself? Maybe your mother let you pick what you wore to school. Or maybe it was the first time you got to order for yourself off of a dinner menu.

From the time we are children and begin making decisions, we feel the “power” that owning a decision can have. In fact, we love making decisions as children. How many times do you remember folding your arms defiantly over your chest because you couldn’t decide something for yourself? How did it feel when someone decided something for you that you didn’t agree with?

That’s probably how it feels when you hear yourself say “yes” when you really wanted to say “no.” 

How do we loose that sense of childhood advocacy as an adult? That powerful voice demanding to be heard? Because we become conditioned to put the feelings of others before our own. We want to avoid potential contention and disappointment at any cost, even our own.

I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.     ~Maya Angelou

There is a deep, evolved wisdom in being on your own side, in loving yourself enough to want to make you happy first. When you make loving choices for yourself, you radiate loving kindness to others.

Why? Because you emit more joy and less stress. When you are true to yourself, you stand in authenticity and radiate a deep, inner happiness.

One of the most common phrases I hear is, “I want to feel like life is not so hard!” Often the reason why life feels difficult stems from attempting to do everything, for everyone, and nothing for oneself. Hardship comes from looking outside oneself for approval and validation; wasting energy worrying about what others think instead of following one’s inner guidance.

Some Do’s and Don’ts When You Want to Say No

You can erase so much complication from your life when learn to you trust your inner compass. Sometimes that means finding your voice to say no when you are being pressured to say yes. Here are a few tips to help get you there.

Do share your feelings of burden. Bringing the other party into your dilemma can be an easy way to move from a yes to a no. For example, if someone asks you to commit to a business event but you already have other appointments scheduled, tell them that as much as you would like to say yes, you don’t know how you could possibly meet your other obligations if you add another one to the mix. As long as you are dealing with someone who has any level of empathy, they will most likely withdraw their request.

Don’t start rescheduling and double-booking yourself unless, of course, you love wallowing in a high-stress environment. A little bit of no means no! If it doesn’t feel 100% like yes, the answer is NO!

Do acknowledge the invitation with gratitude. Beginning with gratitude sets a positive tone and makes it easier to transition to your no.

Don’t allow yourself to sound whiny when you get to your no. Practice saying it in the mirror until you can deliver your no with confidence.

Do allow space for a next time. That lets the other person know that your ‘no’ does not mean never. It just means not right now. Nicely say, “Thank you but I need to pass this time around. Will you come back to me sometime in the future?”

Don’t forget to acknowledge your sense of self-empowerment every time you find the courage to say no.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.     ~Buddha

Make your life easier and more joyful by respecting yourself enough to decline a commitment when it doesn’t feel right. Doing so not only helps you manage the precious commodity of time and energy, it also adds to your sense of individual empowerment.

For more inspiration, join Sheila and the Braveheart community on Facebook and Twitter!

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