NO is a complete sentence.
Hillary Clinton's first debate performance vs. Donald Trump was extraordinary, and her composure and clarity reminded me of my favorite HRC debate moment of all time.
Do you remember? Anderson Cooper asked Lincoln Chafee to reiterate the doubts he'd previously expressed about Madam Secretary's fitness for the presidency. Chafee did so, all clumsiness and innuendo. Anderson invited HRC to respond, and she gave a one-word answer that rang clear and sonorous as a liberty bell:
Not, "Well, I. . . "
Not, "I'm sorry, but . . . "
Not, "I'm afraid not, because . . ."
I find that lately, I am saying No more and more often, and with less and less adornment. Fewer Sorry's and Here Are My Good Reasons and Please Don't Hate Me's.
As I say "No." more often, I realize that all the adornments I've been draping around my No's weren't only for the people I worried about disappointing.
They were for me.
By tempering a No with Sorrys, I dulcify my self-assertion. I assure myself that I am considerate, not imperious.
By justifying a No with All the Good Reasons, I buttress my self-interest. I gird my desires and preferences in logic, because the desires and preferences on their own feel both not-enough and also way too big.
But when I say a just plain No, I am practicing trusting that "Because I don't want to" is enough of a reason. And AT THE SAME TIME, I am practicing trusting that "Because I don't want to" doesn't make me too much, too strong, too self-interested, too self-assured.
Becoming more comfortable with No is directly proportional to becoming more comfortable being fully who I am, and standing clearly in my power.
It's not easy. Sometimes I'm not feeling brazen enough for a bare No, in which case I take the advice of Her Majesty Shonda Rhimes, and borrow her badass, still-spare version:
"No, I'm not able to do that."
Because here's the thing: Shonda Rhimes, and Hillary Clinton, and me, and you too, for that matter? We are all actually able to do ANYTHING WE WANT.
(Perhaps that's why so many people ask so much of us?)
But to do ANYTHING, we cannot do everything for and be everything to everyone. When we stand centered in ourselves, our desires, our intentions, this truth is easier to accept.
And the No's that come from that centered place? They're also easy to accept - often surprisingly, delightfully so. Just listen to the audience respond to HRC's standalone No in that debate.
And feel the resonance of that liberty bell in your heart, your bones.