My 2019 Intention? No.

Nearly 3 weeks into the New Year, and I am ready to shout out from the roof tops what my “word” for 2019 will be. I proudly declare that for the next 365 days my word is, “No.”

I would not consider myself to be a people-pleaser necessarily, but I have grown all too familiar of that feeling when I know that once again, I am doing something that I do not want to be doing. I would best describe this dreadful feeling as a cocktail of fatigue, anger, and frustration with a sprinkling of resentment.

Sometimes there are things that I unquestionably have to do, whether I want to or not. But the truth is, most of it I have easily agreed to. I could have said No. Instead I find myself saying, “sure”, “fine”, “yeah… I can do that” through gritted teeth a sinking feeling in my stomach. I know when I’m doing it, and I really want it to STOP.  

My yoga teacher today went around the room for everyone’s resolutions or word, and there were some pretty impressive intentions. I heard people say, “Perseverance!” or “Joy”, and “Stay Married!” (which was pretty epic to own out loud- you go girl). I shared that my word is, “No”, and it was pleasantly re-framed as “Boundaries” by the group. And yes, that is true of course, saying No will keep my boundaries. However, I don’t want to put it so politely. There is some serious assertiveness behind this word, and quite frankly No means NO.

There’s a reason I cannot get on board with calling it “Boundaries”. We have different boundaries with different people, naturally. I keep a much softer boundary with the people in my inner circle than I do with those a few rungs out. I can already (sometimes) say No to the people furthest out from me. It is the people within my inner circle, the ones I keep the softest boundaries with, that are also going to be receiving my “no”. My word needs to be delivered to everyone and anyone, regardless of what rules we have established within the boundaries of our relationship. There are no grey areas in this word for me. This is very straightforward, I will either say “yes” or “no”. No more excuses.

I remember Brené Brown saying in a Ted Talk about trust, that when you say No to someone, you will experience about 13 seconds of discomfort. Time is surely relative because that 13 seconds feels like an absolute lifetime. The feelings in the room become tangible, and incredibly uncomfortable. Maybe my “no” hurts your feelings, and you receive rejection, disappointment, and anger. However, I can no longer accept the pang of guilt for how my No makes you feel.

I say this next message through love: How you feel when I say no, is your learning curve for growth. And, your welcome.

That’s right. I showed you a blind spot, a topic to journal, explore, and take to your therapist about. How you feel is completely based on you, and that is very separate from me. You may want me to believe that I can control your feelings, perhaps by saying yes or no. However, we both know this is not true. With love, I have to release myself from the responsibility of determining your emotional state. The belief that I ever could determine such a thing is a pure illusion, and every time we both bought into that illusion, I robbed you of an opportunity for growth.

Maybe you are also ready to start saying No. No to commitments that don’t serve you, or extra tasks at work. No to sitting in your driveway after a long day to avoid dropping a call when on the phone with a friend who just really needs you for one more minute, no to saving the day. I invite you to join me in the revolution of NO. Which of course, you can say no to joining.

Jaimie Gurley