How Learning “No is a Complete Sentence” Can Help Your Recovery

I used to be a “yes” person. I did not even realize that no is a complete sentence.

I said YES to everything. Yes, I can help. Yes, you can count on me. Yes, I can be there. Yes to the run. Yes to the diet. Yes to my worth being dependent upon my body size. Yes, I want to volunteer. Yes, I will join your committee. Yes, I want to come to your meeting. Yes, I agree with you. Yes, I like your outfit, your ideas, and your opinions. YES. YES. YES. 

You didn’t even have to finish your question… I’d answer YES even if deep down at my core there was a resounding no. 

Before I understood that no is a complete sentence, it was always yes.

I said yes for so many reasons. I was afraid if I said no then you wouldn’t like me. Or that you wouldn’t invite me next time. I said yes out of the fear that I wouldn’t be needed. That I wouldn’t matter. That I wouldn’t be included. Or wanted.

I said yes so that I would feel worthy. So that maybe I would be enough.

I said yes in exchange for a false sense of control over situations.

I said yes because I thought I was supposed to. I said yes as an automatic reflex. As if it was the only script I had ever read.

I said yes before my mind had a moment to register the question. The word escaped my lips before I ever checked in with my gut. Or my heart. As if my thoughts or feelings didn’t even matter. As if I didn’t matter.



And then one day I learned a life-changing lesson in a simple two-letter word.

NO.

It is a complete sentence. It is a word that holds power and resolve.  And used correctly it can be empowering, freeing, and beautiful. It can be life-changing.

When you say NO, you do NOT have to give a reason.

You do not have to explain yourself. You do not have to make up excuses or apologize.

No is a complete sentence. And it is enough.

Sure, by saying no I may disappoint others. I may not be invited next time. I may feel left out. I may not be liked.

But I will never lose myself again.

I listen to my soul now because I no longer want to disappoint myself.  Because I finally realize I have value and worth independent of what I can do or be for someone else. 

And I no longer depend on the judgments of others to define my own worth.

I finally understand that my wants, needs, and desires matter.  And I trust that I have what I need. Being liked by others is no longer my first priority.  

The irony of “yes”

Ironically all those times I said yes to everyone else, I was saying no to myself. 

I said no to my hunger. I said no to my needs. I said no to expressing my thoughts or opinions. While YES poured out of my mouth to everyone else, inside was a very different battle.  As I vomited YES to everyone around me, I gave myself a resounding NO to every question, want, need, or desire.

No, I could not have food. No, I could not rest. No, I didn’t deserve it. No, I wasn’t a good mom, a good friend, a good daughter, a good person. No, they don’t want to hear my thoughts or ideas. No, they won’t like me. No, I am not enough. No. No. No.

Taking my power back

Recovery from anorexia and bulimia has given me the power to say NO to other people and to say YES to myself. Perhaps now that I am finally saying yes to myself, I no longer feel the need to run around as a yes person.

I used to dish out passive-aggressive YES’s that came with a side of guilt and martyrdom. Saying yes out of obligation led to resentment and bad vibes. Now when I DO say yes- you can trust it.  I can trust it. Because it is authentic.

And I strive to surround myself with others who say yes only when they mean it. And who understand that no IS a complete sentence.

Because when it comes down to it- my time is valuable, my opinion matters, and I am worthy of acceptance and belonging even if I say no.

And the very same is true for YOU.


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