An early and necessary step in taking care of your own development is being able to say no to yourself, especially the part of you that acts unreflectively and habitually to soothe you, calm you, or keep things familiar.
No to snapping at others when you’re overstretched or feeling stressed
No to reaching for your email or phone when you’re anxious
No to saying ‘yes’ every time someone wants you to get involved
No to over-stretching yourself in your attempts to feel of use
No to keeping quiet when there’s something to be said
No to taking control the moment others wobble or make a mess
No to calming down all the conflicts so you can keep the peace
No to being right so that everyone else can be wrong
No to getting busy and busier when you’re feeling uncertain
No to ignoring your body’s demands that you rest or take care
No to the inflated, twisted, out-dated demands of the inner critic
Each of these habits acts to keep the world in a recognisable configuration. Each sustains an identity – a story about yourself that you come to rely upon and which you present to others. And each fixes the horizons of the world so that not too much can surprise you (least of all your own unrealised capacity to respond in fresh, creative and unforeseen ways).
And all of this is why, if you want to attend to your development, saying no to yourself is an early step, so that over time you’re able to reach for a more expansive and responsive yes.