Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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The Most Powerful Word

LettersI have a friend who says the most powerful word in the English language is “no.” It took me a while to understand the concept there but once I did, I found I have to agree with him. It is also one of the most balancing words.


The fastest way for me to get unbalanced is by simply overcommitting. Like many people, I have these deep desire to have everyone like me, so when they ask me to do something, I immediately want to do it. If I do it, they will like me more, right? So I get involved in things that truthfully I’d rather not do all due to my insecurity.

So I realize that I’m in danger of overcommitting and need to cut back, but again I want them to like me, so when asked to do something, I tell them I can’t and then make up an excuse as to why I couldn’t do that. Fine, except that now I’m also lying to them and I have to keep track of what I told whom and hope that everything works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. Then I have actually hurt the feelings of the person I was trying so hard not to. Not because I couldn’t/wouldn’t help them, but because I actually lied to them.


It took me many years to understand all of this. All through my 20s, it was my standard operating procedure to decline things with a made up excuse. Slowly, as my self-confidence increased, I began to see the folly of doing this. But what do you do when you know you are in danger of over committing but don’t want to offend the person you are talking with?


Welcome to the power of “no.” I started it as an experiment. What would happen if I started to say no? So soon someone asks me to help them with something or join them and I respond with “No, thank you.” No excuse, no explanation why I couldn’t, just a simple no. So I waited to see what would happen, would the person be disappointed? Mad? Hurt? It turns out they simply said “Ok, thanks” and moved on. What a relief this was. No excuses to come up with and keep track of, no feelings hurt, and I return to a sense of balance.


I know for me this has practically solved my overcommittment issue, as well as dealt with some of my self-confidence issues. Try out the most powerful word in the English language, and see if your results mirror mine.