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Saying No Is a Spiritual Practice

When you say no to something you are saying YES to something else. This last week has proven that to be once again. Dear universe, I hear you loud and clear!

I’ve had to ramp up my ‘no’ muscle lately and to be honest it has been a little uncomfortable. But the slight discomfort I’ve felt saying no can’t even touch the freedom and joy I have felt afterwards. Saying no for me is about trusting my intuition. It’s about accepting that not everyone is going to be happy with my decisions all of the time. Saying no is also about standing in my truth and living in alignment with my path.

Last week I caught a cold and decided to slow down and rest instead of trying to push through it. It’s these little victories that remind me of how far I have come and how much work there still is to do! A cold is not a big deal in the scheme of things and because I took off work and rested I am on the mend. The bigger lesson here is that I was doing too much and needed to say no to a few things. My body was speaking to me and I got the message. It was time for a self care overhaul. I was 100 percent in.

During my few days off work I rested. And by rest I mean drank gallons of broth, read, napped, journaled, and watched countless hours of The Voice. Can we PLEASE talk about Pharrell Williams for a second? Um, what?! He’s blowing my heart open on that show with his humble approach and sincerity. I like his track Happy just as much as the next person, but seeing him as a mentor like this has totally changed my view of him. Pharrell is just awesome.

Okay, I’m back from my digression. This is what happens when I spend too many hours at home….!

So yeah. Saying no. It’s a spiritual practice that I am learning (the hard way more often than I care to admit) to get into. Yes, you read that correctly, saying no is a spiritual practice. And a super potent one at that.

Most of us take on way too much. We’re over extended, busy all the time, tired, and for what? How can we be of maximum service to ourselves, each other, and our communities if we are constantly running on fumes?

We need to slow down.

We need to conserve our energy.

We need to say no.

Trust me. Saying no is spiritual and it will rock your world.

Get into it.

Who cares what people think. You don’t have to do it all.

And while you’re at it drop the explanations. You don’t need to explain a thing. You are enough and so is your no.

But do be polite. A little kindness goes really far, especially when declining. Perhaps a no thank you?

Because the beauty is, when we say no to one thing, we say yes to something else.

Saying no to an event is saying yes to a night of much needed relaxation and rest. Saying no to a book deal (just did that a few weeks ago!) is saying yes to even more exciting writing opportunities that come your way (more soon I promise!). Saying no to teaching a workshop is saying yes to nurturing your relationships because let’s face, it none of us seem to have enough time for the people we care about the most.

Listen, I am turning into the No Lady over here and I can’t even count how many amazing things have happened since I declared this my new spiritual practice. The universe hears you. It might not give you what you want when you want it, but it has your back. Take a risk. Let go.

Saying no is also saying yes.

And when you contemplate that profound teaching and decide to take action on it, your entire life opens up in beautiful unexpected ways.

If saying no is challenging for you I get it. It is not my strongest area either. All that is required is that we show up and practice. Building a new muscle takes work. There might be some soreness in the beginning. It might feel weird. But over time we get stronger and saying no becomes an integrated practice and we enjoy it! And that’s when things get really good.

Is there something you want to say no to but haven’t yet? Do you feel like you are doing too much and need to pull back and say no to some of it? Are you an expert no-sayer?



  • This was just what I needed! Here’s my experience. I lost a job I wasn’t all that thrilled about in the middle of wedding planning with only a few opportunities in sight. I was tired and stressed and my health was suffering. I knew I needed to regroup and take some time off. A few months later, I’m still somewhat jobless, but I’m learning what I like and what I don’t like and most importantly, what I want. I’ve said no to more than a dozen job opportunities because in my gut, none of them were right for many different reasons. Some of them offered more money than I’ve ever made in my career and a lot of friends and family looked at me like I was nuts. Saying no is a big step in learning who you are and what you’re worth.

    • ashley

      Hey Barbara,
      Thanks so much for chiming in and sharing your experiences. It’s so important to listen to our bodies and trust our gut just like you said. I love that this is helping you get clear on what you want, that is huge. And you’ve said no to so many jobs – AMAZING! Good for you trusting yourself and this process. I am really inspired by your honesty and willingness to wait. It’s just the affirmation I needed to keep going. And yes, here’s to learning what we’re worth, a truly powerful lesson. Wishing you a beautiful week. Sending love your way.

  • olga

    I have seriously started practising to say NO last year, when I realised I was so constantly overcommitted for years that I didn’t really know what it would feel like if I wasn’t. And my health suffered terribly from it. It was really hard to stop feeling my schedule to the brim so I started therapy around it to see why I just could not say no to a few things… It has been quiet a journey, I made some progress, but I also feel like I only started to learn what is possible. I agree that saying no to one thing is saying yes to another – it excites me! But still it’s difficult. I am very sensitive so I get overstimulated really easily but I also get really excited about so much in the world around me I just want to be everywhere at once! this tricky combination requires a balancing act and a lot of Nos

    • ashley

      Hello Olga! So wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I relate to getting excited about opportunities and wanting to say yes to them! You are right, we can only be one place at one time and I have found the less I do the more I can be fully present for what is in front of me. When I am scattered all over the place it’s impossible to be present. It’s a huge balancing act and takes years of practice. Grateful to be on this journey with you! xoa

  • YES!!!!!

    i mean … NO
    ;) hahaha

    i am saying YES to saying NO!
    i am 100% with you! saying NO is a TOTAL f*#^&ng game changer!
    i have been partaking in this amazing spiritual practice for a few years now – strengthening my almost non existent “no muscle” – man, i was so good at being a doormat – a people pleaser since childhood. it was so uncomfortable at first but also weirdly empowering and liberating. HUGE space opened up for me. i also learned a sister lesson to saying no which is … i saw that i really didn’t want to hurt people or let people down (what i didn’t realize is that i was hurting and letting down myself every time i didn’t listen to what i needed or wanted). and that sometimes by not wanting to hurt people i actually ended up hurting them more. this is a hard lesson for a people pleaser and seems contradictory. but there was a moment that i really got that and then could track it back through all my relationships and interactions and some friendships. that if i wasn’t being true to me i wasn’t showing up as the true me – totally unfair to that other person. and that it is a loving thing to do to be clear and direct and honest with someone else. it might hurt a bit in the moment, but it actually saves everyone from a lot of messy pain down the line.
    so, i am a total NO fan!
    my last NO story i will share is from my friend Ann – who is amazing! she once told me that she was really learning this whole NO lesson in a big way, and that (bc she is so intuitive and rad) she started to see that in order to help her really learn this and practice this the universe was actually sending her people that needed someone to say NO to them! how amazing is that? i always think about that, that it goes both ways. you might not be on the other side of your NO but chances are that for some reason that person also needs your NO as much as you do.

    i loved this part too: And while you’re at it drop the explanations. You don’t need to explain a thing. You are enough and so is your no.

    love you!!

    • ashley

      YES to all of this Lauren! I love everything you said about being a people pleaser and recognizing that it wasn’t helping your relationships. I so get that and it’s been a hard lesson to learn for me too. Being clear and direct is key and it gives everyone a chance to be true to themselves. I’ve realized too that it’s okay if folks get upset! They are totally allowed to have their feelings and work through them. I love how saying no clears the weeds in our relationships, we start to see who are true blue friends are and what friendships we can let go of.

      I love your story from Ann, what a powerful one! I relate to it 100% and am just amazed at how many opportunities I’ve gotten to say no too just since writing this post! It’s kinda fun strengthening this new muscle because like you said, it’s clean and direct. There’s no lingering energy when you speak your truth. None.

      Wishing you a beautiful weekend and sending lots of love your way. Super grateful for you!

      TEAM LAUREN!!!


  • Josef

    “I am open to this possibility, but unfortunately I do not have time for this right now.”

    Clean. Direct. Allowing potentiality.

    • ashley

      I totally get it!

  • […] 2. Saying No […]

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