A Wellness Tool You Need: The Sacred NO

Pretend it’s the end of yoga class and say it with me:

Nooohhhmmm! Nooohhhmmm! Nooohhhmmm!

That’s not a typo. It’s just like ohm, but nohm! This’ll make sense in a moment, I promise.

Nooohhhmmm! Nooohhhmmm! Nooohhhmmm!

My client (let’s call her Suzy for the sake of anonymity) brilliantly graced me with this idea yesterday. She’s been doing great work on setting boundaries in her life since boundaries are essential to wellness. Wellness is the natural result of self-care which is all about making great choices and meeting your needs. It’s about saying YES to getting great sleep, spending time with your friends, doing exercise you enjoy, and so much more. And here’s where boundaries come in:

Your YES is only as good as your NO.

You might fully want to say YES to family dinner four nights per week. But if you’re also saying yes to a client that isn’t a good fit for you, a toxic relationship with your sister, and way too many volunteer opportunities, those family dinners just ain’t going to happen consistently. Your time and energy will be drained and you’ll find ways to not follow through on this important value of yours. Yes, self-care is about saying YES to that which nourishes you. It’s equally about saying NO to that which doesn’t nourish you.

You need to be able to say a strong NO in your life in order to be able to say a strong YES in your life.

Suzy has been working very hard on strengthening her NO. She’s stepped into saying NO to things that weren’t really filling her up and to some things that were downright toxic. She’s had to be very firm sometimes. Some opportunities, some people, don’t respond to meek NOs. Sometimes it takes a lot of contrast to push us to say NO like we mean it. That’s what happened with Suzy. We got on Skype a few weeks ago to start our work together and right away I could tell she was drained and weary. As soon as we started talking, she said, “Fu*k NO. I have to tell him this sh*t stops NOW.” Suzy proceeded to walk her talk and has since put a few big burdens behind her.

When we got on Skype yesterday, and I asked Suzy how she was doing, a softer, gentler, and much more alive woman, looked at me and said “Nooohhhmmm.” I knew instantly what she meant. She was still setting boundaries, but feeling much calmer about it. We talked about what’s going on in her life now and what she wants to create in the coming weeks. To thrive even more, she needs to bring more nourishment into her life. As an entrepreneur, business owner, philanthropist, and great all-around person, she gets asked for a lot. Will you do this with me? Will you do this for me? Suzy and I talked about how what she’s developing now could be thought of as “the sacred NO”. Not sacred in a religious way, but sacred as in essential to LIFE, to the life that is each of us. Thinking of our NOs as nooohhhmmms, Suzy and I realized together, is a way to say NO that’s not only guilt-free, tension-free, and 100-percent jerk-free, but actually sacred.

I do my very best to live my life by a simple, powerful credo: Do the most loving thing for everyone involved.

That means I can’t be selfish. I can’t only do what’s best for me. But I also can’t sacrifice myself. Because I’m one of the “everyone” involved in any situation. Suzy’s been working really hard on this too. And yesterday it was clear she was coming into her own.

The next time you have an important NO to say, I invite you to do a few nooohhhmmms to yourself to get in touch with your best self. To remind yourself you’re doing the most loving thing for everyone involved. You might even deliver the NO with an imaginary nomaste (that’s namaste and NO having a baby in case you missed it). Nomaste: “My inner light honors your inner light (namaste) while I’m saying NO because it’s the most loving thing to do for everyone involved.” Nomaste. The sacred NO.

Photo 143--The Sacred NO

All of my clients work on setting boundaries at some point in our work together since most of my clients are Strivers, Martyrs, or both when we start our work together.

A Striver is a person who puts a great deal of time and energy into accomplishing things, and, in doing so, neglects self-care. Of course, accomplishing things is a positive trait. A striver simply takes it too far, at the expense of self-care, and ultimately their wellness.

A Martyr is a person who puts a great deal of time and energy into caring for others, and, in doing so, neglects self-care. Of course, caring for others is a positive trait. A martyr simply takes it too far, at the expense of self-care, and ultimately their wellness.

Strivers and Martyrs both have to learn the sacred NO in order to transform into THRIVERS.

A THRIVER is a person who thrives by proactively meeting his/her needs. They retain their strengths, even enhance them, as they become balanced by learning to take care of themselves.

If you identify as a Striver or Martyr (or both), I invite you to work on strengthening your sacred NO. A few nooohhhmmms will get you centered. The spirit of nomaste will help you deliver your NOs just right.


There’s a place below to share your feelings on this article if you’d like. I’d love to hear from you.


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