One of the most important things to practice when aiming to live intentionally is the power of saying no. I have found it’s actually more important to say no than it is to say yes. And that’s because when we say no to one thing, we are saying yes to something else.

When we say no to the shoulds, expectations, life-draining thoughts and beliefs, over-booked schedules, and to people, places, and activities that don’t bring us joy, we can then carve out the space in our lives for those very people and things we care about. When we say no, we are actually sending a message to ourself that we are worthy of living a life on our terms and deserve nice things. When we say no, we are saying yes to ourself, we are saying yes to our values, to our worthiness, to our dreams, and to our overall well-being.

In everything we do, there is always a choice. And inevitably, when we choose one thing, we are turning away from something else. We can’t be committed to both our dreams and our excuses (don’t remember where I first heard this idea, but I love it). When we choose one thing, we are inevitably saying no to another.

Here are 7 things I’ve been saying no to these days: 

1. mindless consumerism: This one is pretty easy for me, as I somehow kicked my shopping addiction I once had years ago. But I can still get stuck in the ugly trap of comparison and wanting some of the latest trends, so it is something I continue to stay mindful of. I want my home to feel cozy, warm and peaceful, and to me that means less clutter. I thrive in a clean and tidy space. I try to only have things in my closet that feel good when I wear them and feel like me (like when I put on one of my long flowy dresses, I could practically prance around my home I feel so good….and sometimes I do). Plus, it’s better for the environment if we shop intentionally. I love the idea of just having things in my home and in my life that bring me joy, and eliminating as much clutter as possible.

2. late nights and too much drinking: This can be a hard one in Spain as the culture sure does love it’s late nights and it’s drinks. But I am finding that my body is becoming more and more sensitive to alcohol and late nights. I love a glass of wine, but I find that I don’t feel 100 percent the next morning even without indulging in drinking, and this unfortunately affects the rest of my day and my plans (I am seeing more and more how important and connected our choices are in life). The more in tune I get with my body, my sensitivity and my needs, the more the rest just feels icky to me. (Don’t get me wrong, I still go out for a couple glasses of wine and thoroughly enjoy it, I just am learning what works best for my body).

3. too many social events/busy schedule: I love connecting with others, but I also equally love alone time. I am learning that I don’t feel my best when I have too much going on socially. I like to see space on my calendar and when there’s not much space, I can feel a little anxious. I swear I’m getting to be allergic to the word busy. I do better with a few social events a week and maybe 1-2 coffee dates with friends as well. Any more than this I feel as if I’m not showing up as my best self. Instead of feeling that something is wrong with me, I am honoring the fact that I’m wired differently and I do need and require probably more downtime than the average person (or maybe I’m just enjoying my own company too much these days).

4. things that drain me: I have gotten fairly good at with distinguishing who and what brings me life, and on the flip side, who or what doesn’t feel life-affirming. If I continue to feel drained with certain people, activities or places (for example: clubs/bars, malls/shopping centers, often overly crowded events and places), I start distancing myself from them. I create loving boundaries which feels supportive and again, is showing that I respect and value myself and my time.

5. thoughts and beliefs that don’t serve me: I say no to thoughts that are critical and judgmental of myself and of others. I don’t expect to always feel positive and on top of the world, but I know negative thinking can start a viscous cycle that’s hard to get out of. Just like I try to declutter my life and my home, I also try to declutter my mind. I often think if a thought is life-giving and I always question where the thought or belief came from. Sometimes I figure it out, often I don’t. But the important thing is questioning it before believing it. 

6. behaviors from others that are disrespectful and unkind: Boundaries and speaking up is a hard one for me. But I’m getting better at speaking up when a behavior is not okay with me and a boundary needs to be placed. I am walking away from people that are hurtful or don’t have my best interest at heart. I am practicing how to value myself by taking actions and making choices that reflect this. I believe we teach people how to treat us and placing a loving boundary can often bring more connection and vulnerability with the right people.

7. technology/screen time: Creating boundaries with technology is very difficult for me. I try to disconnect from social media 1 day on the weekend as I always feel so much better when I do this. It’s amazing what even 1 day of disconnection can do. I feel unplugging brings so many benefits to our life. We step out of comparison and distractions and into actually living and appreciating life. Disconnecting helps me slow down and enjoy the simple things. It also helps with creativity, inspiration, and feeling more grounded and liberated. 

I hope my list has brought you a bit of encouragement and inspiration. What are you saying no to these days?