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Empower Yourself: Practice saying "NO"

I recently finished a "mini-series" here on the Zen Blog, with 16 posts (so "mini" is debatable I guess), and in the process I had some things pop up that I TOTALLY wanted to share in a blog post. Good thing I wrote them down, because now is the time... (cue dramatic movie music).

As my career evolves with our modern world, the increase in DESPERATE need to put our attention into more urgent foundational matters of deep health becomes more and more evident with each passing week. Not only through conversations with clients, but in my own daily routines, in my soccer coaching etc... I see common denominators constantly that are GREATLY impacting our health in negative ways.

To truly be healthy, happy and empower ourselves with the ability to do so, we absolutely MUST PRACTICE saying NO to more.

Frankly, modern day humans SUCK at it. Plain and simple.

NO ONE will take care of YOUR health except YOU

Yes, I (your Health & Wellness Coach) care and WISH for ALL my clients to be healthy, happy people.

Yes, your doctor cares for you to be healthy and see him/her less often because of it.

Yes, your physio cares that you feel better and are able to manage your pain/discomfort moving forward.

... this list goes on. This is why people choose a career in health; Because we love helping others feel good inside and out.

HOWEVER, ultimately YOU are in charge. YOU decide to take action, listen, ask questions, ignore or completely abandon professional guidance and suggestions. YOU choose. Meaning, NO ONE else will make a bigger impact than YOU!!

With that in mind, we also have to remember that if YOU don't respect YOUR OWN TIME and make YOUR HEALTH, TIME and ENERGY a priority - ABSOLUTELY NO ONE ELSE WILL!!!

This is a FACT and a common conversation with clients in my coaching.

Let me share a prime example that came up recently in conversation with a client (I have plenty more examples too):

Single mom.

Daughter going to University this fall (2024).

Works her butt off, often more hours than even her boss tells her (puts it on herself - her words).

In the past has picked up a second job on weekends.

She left her second part time job when the previous owners sold the business. The new owner initially asked her to stay on and even manage full time, which she said NO.

Good for her! ... Fast forward a few months later...

Life is hard right now for us Canadians. There's no such thing as saving money and/or living an affordable life. It's a struggle. Especially for a single income family. So it was a great reason for her to not say no when asked to work at the store again and help the new owner get into a rhythm with things.

She started back part time as a second job.

...Here's where the "ah ha" moment comes in...

Yes she's gone back to help her and her daughter with more income, but also to HELP this owner out. FYI - this is the kind hearted person she is. 100%. HOWEVER, even the most kind hearted people have to put their health and wellbeing FIRST! Here's why:

Knowing she has a full time career, that she's helping HIM out AND that this is a SECOND job, this owner is OFTEN late to relieve her (sometimes a couple hours).

As disgusted as I am with treating ANY employees/person's time in that way, it really frustrated me to hear the story of a single, hard working mom who's just trying to do her best for her and her daughter AND who's doing the owner and his new business a favour, to be treated like this.

HER health, HER time, HER energy, HER wellbeing... it's all up to HER. Because no one else will care. THIS story is one of my absolute best in the power of NO. It's such a good example (in such a brutal way) of how we need to desperately put "NO" into practice for the betterment of our health.


We elude to it often at Zenergy and the Zen Blog; what we do most is what we become good at. Saying "YES" to too much and/or things we don't ACTUALLY care to do, will only negatively impact our health and wellbeing.

One example from my own experience came 9-years ago now, when I first started playing music gigs locally with my Dad. "Being paid to party" I like to put it. When it first started happening (it wasn't really planned to become what it did) I was so excited and happy people wanted us to play, that I was saying "YES" to anything that came our way. However, that only brought unnecessary added STRESS.

My voice wasn't as strong as it is now and needed more recovery time...

I was constantly worried my voice wouldn't be able to get through a full gig...

My songs were in a binder, with paper and had to printed from the computer (vs my tablet now)...

I had to rearrange songs in binders and setlists for each gig (I remember papers everywhere on the floor)...

Plus you have practicing in there as well...

After a bit of this, my wife finally said to me; "If this EVER becomes work for you, you need to stop - because that's NOT WHY you do this". She was 100% right and I've followed that lesson every year since.

We now say "NO" to gigs almost as often as we say "YES".

We discovered a balance that works for us, by just taking a couple gigs each month. (It's just a fun side thing after all. We're not trying to go "pro" or become famous. We just have fun and create memories in music - why make that more stressful than it has to be!? ... granted everything comes with some stress eventually LOL)

It truly does take practice. But like any practice, once you work at it consistently and stick with it - it becomes much easier. And honestly FEELS GOOD inside and out. It's freeing in a way. You feel in control of YOU.

I'll share one more recent example of mine ...

I recently was preparing to speak at the L.I.F.E conference at Loyalist College (for staff of the college) and was excited to be presenting two more talks, for the first time since I did it back in 2018 at the first L.I.F.E conference event. Between that prep, my scouting for the college soccer season, gigs and my job - there was enough on my plate to think about and do.

A couple weeks prior to my talks, I was asked to put on a mobility, stretching and mindfulness workshop at a local facility. I would have LOVED that. BUT, I was already maxed out and had enough to think about. I said "Thank you, but NO". I certainly was open to it in the future, but now isn't a good time for ME.

That decision, as soon as I hung up the phone felt JUST AS GOOD had I said yes.

To better our health:

We have to stop acting like we can do everything for everyone.

ESPECIALLY when it means doing NOTHING for OURSELVES.


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