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Do You Ever Say ‘No’?

Do You Ever Say ‘No’?

How many times a day do you get asked to do something you either don’t want to or don’t have time to do? Personally, a part of me has come to dread my email inbox because it’s so full of sweet, generous invitations from kind people who want something from me.

Speak at this telesummit.  Keynote our conference. Give me advice about my sick child. Write the foreword for my book. Help me with my book launch. Promote my teleclass with me. Give me suggestions for how to get more traffic to my blog.

I want to be useful. Many of these people are SO nice. And yet, there’s only so much of me, and if I say yes to everyone, I wind up neglecting the people I love most, my health suffers, and I get so busy that I lose my capacity to find the stillness within me.

Since I’m the luckiest woman on the planet to benefit from life coaching from When Martha Beck, I wanted to share what she taught me because I know it applies to many of you.

What Motivates A Horse?

Martha knows this about me. I’ve been in the ring with Martha and the horses being the blessed recipient of the kind of equine therapy we do with the doctors in the Whole Health Medicine Institute (you can read all about it  here). So I knew exactly what she meant when Martha said, “Lissa, horses don’t do favors.”

Duh. Of course they don’t.

When you enter the ring with a horse, the horse will only “join up” with you if the horse reads the energy you exude and genuinely wants to join up. If the horse doesn’t like what it reads of your energy, the horse will turn away and try to get out of the ring without a lick of concern about hurting your feelings.

Horses are not people pleasers. They’re not horse pleasers either. They aren’t motivated by the desire to be liked or even to be helpful. But they are motivated by clean, positive energy. If they read that in you, they’ll bump their life force up against yours and basically mimic everything you do- happily.

When To Say Yes, When To Say No

So what should we do when trying to decide whether or not to say yes to someone who wants something from us? Martha says we must be like horses.

What does that mean? When you notice an impulse to say yes, when you’re feeling like you want to help, check in with your motivations. Are you saying yes because the person who is asking has such pure, radiant energy that you want to bump up your life force against theirs (clean energy)? Or are you motivated by wanting to be liked, a desire to please, a sense of obligation, or guilt (dirty energy)?

What if it’s okay to never do favors?

What if we only said yes because we wanted to bump up against clean energy?

What Motivates Visionaries?

When I returned from World Domination Summit and everyone else was posting inspiring blog posts about how they were going to change the world, I felt weighted with what felt like an important question:What motivates visionaries to want to save the world?

Are we motivated by a noble, clean impulse to save the world because we genuinely care? Or are we motivated by dirty energy stemming from an underlying sense of unworthiness that spurs us to make the world a better place?

Either way, the end result can be a good thing, but how we feel about the work we’re doing will feel very different depending on whether we’re motivated by clean versus dirty energy.  If we’re like horses, drawn towards being helpful because it lights up our life force, our work will fill — and fulfill — us. If we’re motivated by a deep-seated sense of not being good enough, our visionary work is likely to deplete us.

Putting This Into Practice

After absorbing what Martha was teaching me, I invited myself to put this into practice where I find it hardest- my inbox. The first four requests for my time tempted me to say yes- but only because I wanted to please those asking me for favors. The fifth was a request for support from someone whose life force is so bright and sparkly that, even though he wasn’t asking for it, I offered to spend a whole day bumping my life force up against his, motivated by a pure desire to help him generate even more beautiful clean energy.

Since then, I’ve been ruthless, gently saying “NO” any time I’m noticing my shadowy motivations- the tendency to sell out my own desires in order to please others. (Martha calls it my “skanky ho” tendencies.)

Are You Addicted to Saying Yes?

Do you have these same tendencies? What would happen if you only said yes when you really want to?

Try it…I dare you…

Practicing “no.”

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


+ add your own
5:03PM PST on Dec 8, 2013


4:51PM PST on Dec 8, 2013


1:49AM PDT on Nov 3, 2013

Thank you :)

10:53AM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

I would rather someone was honest and said no to a request than said yes and then let me down - at least with a clear no you know where you are......

1:27AM PDT on Nov 1, 2013

I say many yes's however I do say no occasionally too. You get wiser as you get older.

5:05AM PDT on Oct 18, 2013

For a reasonable life

3:13AM PDT on Oct 18, 2013

Well, with no I have a little problem, that's true :)

8:13AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013


7:57AM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

Knowing when to say no should be a no brainer

11:26PM PDT on Sep 20, 2013

thank you for posting

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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