“No” is one of the most powerfully positive words we can say. I believe that saying “no” more often makes saying “yes” have more strength and meaning. Gentry Bronson standing behind bars with No War written on his arm

I say “no” far more often now than ever before in my life. I am conscious of my boundaries and demand to be valued, respected, and treated kindly. To merit saying “yes”, I ask myself three questions:

1) Am I interested? If I’m not, I say “no”. Doing something that is of no interest to me is a recipe for issues and problems. But if I’m excited and, hopefully, passionate about it, I’m ready to ask myself the next question.

2) Do I have the time? If I don’t, I say “no”. There is no reason to ever stretch myself to a place of stress or burnout. If I feel I can take something on effectively and energetically, I’m ready to ask the third question.

3) How will I be valued? Value is something many of us take for granted, but it’s a very necessary element and can come in many forms. It can be money, which is essential to most people’s survival. It can be accommodation or a meal. Possibly a referral to a client or other possible opportunities. Or maybe it’s producing future good for myself and others.

Do not let the world dictate that you need to say “yes” all the time. Never give in to violence, bigotry, or letting others take advantage of you. Stand up for yourself and then when you know it is the right time, say wholeheartedly “YES”!

Photo of me taken by Kristen Gerbert in the Marin Headlands outside San Francisco.

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