In 2015 Shonda Rimes released the Year of Yes, just as I was learning to say No all over again. The word NO, a simple shift in narrative has given me back to myself. I used to say yes to everything and it left me depleted and often frustrated and angry. I think I equated saying yes and taking on everything with my self-worth. Being the “yes girl” made me valuable and I got a great deal of validation from that. During that time, I clearly did not know that I determined my own self-worth and because of that, I was often taken advantage of and the things that I used to enjoy I became very resentful of.
When toddlers learn to say the word no it is extremely powerful in their young minds and they are really onto something. If you have ever seen a toddler saying “No” to everything, on repeat, they are just learning to use and exert their own power. I remember being asked to do something and finally saying no and feeling so fucking great about it. People were so used to me saying yes that it was a little shocking at first and where I was always the person willing to pick up the slack or do the shit jobs that nobody else wanted to do it was not exactly looked upon favorably. I learned quite quickly that my value to some people was very much dependent on what I could do for them, I also learned pretty quickly that saying No to the things I really didn’t want to do put me back in the driver’s seat of my own life and made me a whole lot happier and valuable to the people that really mattered, including myself. Setting limits in our lives is extremely important and for me, a simple change in narrative became a vehicle of integrity and a way to rid myself of time-consuming filler that had ceased to add any value to my life. Don’t get me wrong, saying yes is not always a bad thing, in fact saying yes to life and love and new experiences can add a great deal to your life, but NO, used properly, wields a great deal of personal power and should be celebrated as such. We put a lot of significance on being needed, wanted and valued but saying yes all of the time to feel worthy just becomes a lot of work.
No. Repeat after me…”NO”
Doesn’t that feel amazing?
I had a boss and friend that used to say, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right either way!” I use this little piece of genius almost every day, in conversations with others and in the words I use to encourage myself. Can’t is a powerful word, if we give power to it. If you believe you cannot do something you simply can’t but if you believe you can you have embraced a fantastic superpower because if you think you can, you absolutely, without a doubt, unequivocally can!
But is a word that people use to clip their own wings and wrap themselves in chains. But is often used in the same paragraph as can’t. ‘But’ gives you the pause to say why you can’t. But comes before an excuse. Take notice and of when and how you are using the word but and try to answer in another way.
I used to think trying was a powerful word until a very wise man who helped me on my healing journey told me that trying is lying. I am trying my best and I am doing my best is a tiny but incredible shift in narrative that will make you a badass. Instead of attempting you are doing. Simple.
I love poetry but in poetry, people are often referred to as broken. Broken hearted, broken spirit, just plain broken. After my husband passed away I often described the feeling I had as broken but when I realized that not only did my heart have this huge capacity to love, it felt every ounce of hurt that comes along with losing that love tragically, I was able to experience every single emotion to every degree on the pendulum swing and I believe that that makes me the very opposite of broken. I am strong enough to bend which essentially makes me unbreakable. I will own and embrace my struggles and rise to fight when needed but I am not broken and neither are you.
The dictionary would like to tell us that vulnerable is susceptible, weak and defenseless but vulnerable is actually one of the most powerful words and actions in the English language. It is one of my favorite words in fact. According to researcher and author Brene Brown, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Through her work, I have come to believe that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage. When we shrug off the protective armor that shields us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves up to experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Vulnerability Is the origin of joy, creativity, authenticity, and love. That feels pretty damn powerful to me.
We often look for others to swoop into a situation and save us. I have a difficult time with that word. When Kirk passed away I remember falling on my deck and slumping against the house in shock and disbelief and I knew immediately that nobody could save me. We all need support, comfort, and encouragement but in those important moments, I realized that if I was going to slay the demons I better find a sword because nobody could save me, that was my job. In a similar respect we can not save others, that is not our job, we can love, hold space, encourage and support but “saving” oneself is an inside job!
These are just a couple of examples of how narrative has been important in my life and has helped me reclaim my personal power. Pay attention to the diminishing words that you use, words that take your power away. You can make some simple little shifts daily in the way you speak to and about yourself as well as how you speak up for yourself. You will immediately command respect because people will see very quickly how you much value yourself and quite frankly if we do not value ourselves why would we expect anyone else to?