So many of us end up saying yes to activities, events and even ideas only to regret it. We end up answering questions that are too personal or downright rude. We let people into our lives who don’t deserve to be there.
Or we say no, and then worry — endlessly — if we really have the right to decline a request or invitation, to stop spending less time with a friend.
According to authors James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher in their new book The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance and Happiness, not only do we have the right to say no, we have an entire Bill of Rights for doing so.
Below is a summary of their list, along with quotes from the book, because it serves as a powerful reminder for all of us.
- “You have the right to defend your life,” according to the authors. In other words, you have the right to say no to things that will hurt you — everything from obvious things like fire to more subtle ones like alcohol.
- You have the right to healthy relationships. “You decide who in your life drains you of energy, and then purge them so you can soar.” Pick the people you’d like to inhabit your inner circle. If you can’t cut out certain people from your life, then consider how to minimize your time with them.
- You have the right to say no to anything that drains your creative energy and interferes with an abundant life. “You have a mission. Only you can give the gift you have. You deserve abundance, wealth, and appreciation for your work.”
- You have the right to have your best interests at heart. “For you to say yes to something, it has to be special to you.”
- You have the right to pick the stories you internalize. According to James Altucher and Azula Altucher, there are thousands of stories, which include owning a home, getting married and having kids. You can say no to any of these stories — any stories that aren’t true for you. “You are entitled to say NO to the stories that do no serve your own evolution, and yes only to the ones that align with your spiritual work, your bliss, and your ability to manifest a fulfilling life.”
- You have the right to reflect. There’s nothing wrong with telling someone you’ll need time to consider their request. The authors share this example: “Okay, give me some time to see how I feel about it.” This also includes taking the time to get to know the people who come into your life — whether it’s professional or personal.
- You have the right to be honest with yourself. You have the right to say no to pretending, to wearing a facade so that others will like you.
- You have the right to a fulfilling life. You have the right to notice any fearful thoughts and relinquish them. (This piece and this one include strategies for dealing with negative or anxious thoughts.)
- You have the right to say no to the past and future. In other words, you have the right to stay in the present, without ruminating about the past or fretting about the future.
- You have the right to say no to the noise around you. This includes the news, responsibilities and pressure. “You can sit alone in silence for a while, every day, to connect with the higher part of you, the part that wants to help you, and let it help you.”
- You have the right to say no to what you “think” you are. “There is nobody you need to impress.”
Saying no isn’t easy. It can make us feel awkward, anxious or guilty (possibly all three). It may be wrought with complicated stories and emotions, such as I’m only worthy when I please others.
But with practice, it does get easier, and the result is a life filled with fulfilling yeses.
Plus, you can start small. Say no to a steak dinner when you really want seafood. Say no to lunch with a colleague who always puts you down. Say “I’ll have to think about it” when your child’s teacher asks for your help with orientation.
You also can start with yourself. Say no to one story that no longer rings true or serves you. Say no to little sleep or foods you don’t like. Say no to multitasking or a habit that sinks your energy.
Reflect on the things you’d like to say no to. (I made this sample list on Weightless.) Remember you have the right to say no at any time to anything.