Understandably, 'no' and anxiety go well together, and we often see every no as another win for our fear. The opposite of anxiety, we think, is yes. So we must be living on yeses to be truly overcoming anxiety.
Can you just imagine the exhaustion?
We don't always learn so easily that no actually does have its place in our healing practice. As much as too many no moments can lead to despair, too many yes moments can lead to burn-out. The importance lies in our ability to use both words with intention throughout our lives.
"You can't have yes without no," writes Shauna Niequist in her comforting meditation-memoir, Present Over Perfect. "Another way to say it: if you're not careful with yours yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without realizing it. In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection, built over years instead of moments."
Saying yes to the things that scare you is part of the journey of living with anxiety - the psychology world calls it exposure therapy - but so is saying yes to self-compassion, to the vital moments of calm and self-care. And to make space for those moments, we may have to say no. Where yes breaks down barriers constructed by fear, no does the very important work of setting boundaries between us and the things that would impede our progress.
What can you say no to in order to create an opportunity for a more healing yes?