No is Not a Bad Word, part 1

[used via Creative Commons License by Kevin Dooley -]
Growing up southern has given me many notions about life, one of them is that saying “no” is a bad word. For southern women, it seems saying no is downright out of the question.

In my experience working with professional women (southern and otherwise), I’m finding that many of them also have trouble saying no.

Whether we’re asked to join a committee, attend an event, help an acquaintance or give our time/efforts/money, it’s rare that we feel comfortable saying no.

I’m not talking about being involved or staying busy. I’m referring to that feeling you get in your stomach after you agreed to do something you don’t really want to do.

The problem that arises when we fail to say no is we then begin to resent the situation and people we’ve said yes to (which isn’t really fair to ourselves or to them). I love what Dr. Brene Brown says about this: It’s better to feel uncomfortable in the moment [of having to say no] than it is to feel resentment for the long-term.

But why do you think that saying no is so uncomfortable for us? I believe it has something to do with the idea that our no is going to let someone down.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to be all things to all people. What if we say no to something/someone and it haunts us for the rest of our life? I don’t mean to over-dramatize but I think as women, most of us have been there.

I watched a Today show segment recently about a newly coined condition currently affecting women called “fomo.” It stands for fear of missing out and apparently it’s something that is plaguing women everywhere.

Just what are we so afraid of missing? The perfect _______________ (fill in your own blank). I’m learning there is no perfect anything. And many times the energy we spend chasing the illusion of that next perfect thing keeps us from enjoying the wonderfully imperfect thing that is right in front of us. To me, that would be missing out.

So, after spending much of my life feeling like “no” is a bad word, I’m learning that it isn’t. No is simply the opposite of yes. Either is an appropriate response, depending on what you feel in your heart at that moment.

This also leads me to think about the implications that another person’s “no” can have in our lives. Stay tuned for part two where I’ll share how one person’s no had HUGE life-altering effects for me.

Kate Spears is a blogger and content marketing professional. She shares her unique southern perspective at her blog, and works with brands large and small to help them tell their stories using content marketing strategies. She calls Knoxville, TN home.

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