how to say no, self-empowerment, stand up for yourself, empowerment, be true to yourself, empowered, strong, stress resilience

When Our Hearts Say, “No,” But Our Mouths Say, “Yes.”

Have you every caught yourself saying, “yes,” when your body/your heart/ your mind screamed, “no?”

Yah, join the club.

I have enough trouble managing all the good stuff that my heart and mouth actually agree on—so many “yeses!”

What’s the story with the yeses we say but don’t really mean? The yeses that pile up and eventually overwhelm us?

For me, it’s my assumptions about what will happen if I say “no.”

Like, “oh no, what will they think of me?” Or, “how deeply will I be a failure?” Here’s a doozy, “how left out will I feel if I say “no” when EVERYONE else says “yes?”

Oh, boy! Psychopathology? Or just human?

It’s completely human to have stories about “what will happen” and assumptions about the “worst-case-scenario.

This had great survival value for our ancestors. Was the rustling in the grass a tiger or just the wind? Were the withered leaves signs of crop failure or the onset of autumn?

But times have changed. We don’t need to bow to our fears. We can take our time. We can look closely at our stories—the stories that drive our yeses and overwhelm.

How about this? Instead of giving in, next time our bodies/our hearts/our minds scream “no,” let’s be brave. Let’s command our mouths to say “no” as well. Without assumptions. Willing to observe the outcome of our self-affirming life experiment.

We may surprise ourselves. We might feel better, reduce our overwhelm, realize everyone’s all right, and the earth will not, in fact, shift on its axis.

Whew! NO, baby, NO.

From the Archives

Karyn Shanks, MD. Inner Wisdom: How to Find It and Trust It. 2018.

Karyn Shanks, MD. Learning to Say “No” and “Yes” to Heal Our Lives. 2016.

Karyn Shanks, MD. When Stepping Up Means Saying, “No.” 2016

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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