Why saying no to everything can be the best thing

Sep 27, 2022

Sunday was the new moon in Libra. I love new moon energies—it’s all about starting over, setting new intentions, starting fresh. This moon in particular was all about finding balance. For me, and for a lot of my creative friends, that balance has as much to do with taking care of your creative self as it does your physical self. 

I pulled an oracle card over the weekend that was all about scheduling yourself in. How many of us actually do that? By the time we fill our calendars with work and all the other obligations that go into living our lives, we rarely find time to carve out for ourselves, whether its your creative practice, a yoga session, or something else that matters deeply to you. 

But like the flight attendants say, you’ve gotta put your own oxygen mask on first before you try to help anyone else.

Sometimes this means taking a real hard look at the stuff you have going on, and making some choices about it. I know you can’t do it with everything—someone has to pick the kids up from the sports—but I’m pretty sure we all have things that we’re saying YES to when we really just want to say NO. 

Think about it. How many times have you gotten invited to a work happy hour that you’d rather poke your own eyes out than attend? Or a party the woman down the street—whose name you can’t even remember—is having? And because you felt some sort of obligation, you said yes. Then you hated yourself. And lost those hours, forever. 

This was SO ME. I am truly a recovering people pleaser. It’s something I struggled with for years, until I took a step back and watched me tie myself into knots to be everything for everyone, only to have no time for myself and no advancement in any of the creative work I so desperately wanted to do. When I was able to recognize it, I was able to make some lasting changes. 

The pandemic helped us all out here—we suddenly all found ourselves with all our obligations canceled. Many of us rejoiced in this newfound freedom. But as the world has come back to life, we’re finding ourselves slowly sucked back in to these things. And now we have the guilt of thinking, Well, I had a couple years off so I probably should go…

But if we’re being serious about our creative practices, the work we want to bring out into the world, we’ve got to get serious about the choices we’re making. One of my business mentors, Marie Forleo, calls it “being a professional disappointer.” She says she disappoints everyone by saying no to everything unless a) it’s a full body yes, and b) she can do the thing with no guilt at putting off something else that was super important to her. 

So this week, take a look at your calendar. See if there are any obligation appointments in there that you could bail out on. Repurpose that time to work on your art. See how you feel afterward. 

Then start scheduling yourself first. 

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