Most of us understand the power of saying yes. When you say yes – you can make things happen; you can affect change.

But consider for a moment the power of saying no.

I discovered it not by design, but after learning of Stephanie’s diagnosis. Initially unable or unwilling to digest the news of a brain tumor, I “dialed back”. I might not have been able to stop the world completely, but if I said “no” enough times, I might be able to slow it down.

  • “No” to volunteer requests;
  • “No” to invitations;
  • “No” to my routine;
  • “No” to distractions that tried to separate me from my thoughts.

Even when I didn’t speak “no” I said it anyway. I didn’t answer emails. I let my calls go to voice mail. I stayed home as much as I could.

I  had no idea that 10 days later, I would start to experience a shift. Maybe the initial shock had worn out its welcome, but I felt better…refreshed even. Surprisingly, saying “no” freed me to say “yes” to the things I knew to be important, like my family, my feelings, and my health. Saying “no” empowered me to deal with the pain of uncertainty, much better than saying “yes.”

“Dialing back,”  even for a short period of time was extremely helpful. Sure, I am still trying to catch-up with emails, apologizing to people for leaving them hanging, and returning phone calls, but now that I understand the power of saying “no,” I may make a habit of it.