Truth Byte # 30

Truth Byte # 30

Sometimes no is the right answer.

Life is not fair.  

I learned this at a tender age through a variety of stomp-your-feet-with-frustration experiences and it was reinforced by my nobody-really-cares-anyways writing purges as a teenager.  

Life is not fair.

And yet, our lives unfold perfectly.

Seems contradictory, right?

And yet, it rings true.  Because when you look back over the life you have, the experiences you have endured, the betrayal, lost love, broken promises, and heartbreaks from friends, family, and the one who was almost-the-one, there are two ways you can tell your story: through the yes or through the no.


Let me explain.

Some of us, spend our lives complaining (either outwardly or inwardly) about how unfair things are.  Some of us have a hundred thousand examples of how we were wronged and misunderstood, and we build the intricate tapestry of our life story with these frayed threads.  

From far away, our lives look alright.  But as soon as someone gets close to us, really close, they notice the mismatch.  They notice the gentle and persistent unravelling. They notice that we say we want something and yet push it away when we almost have it.  We feel pain quickly, but it takes us eons to forgive.  

They notice how our mouths are saying something but our eyes are saying something else.  

In a nutshell, we are not aligned.  We present a pretty picture, but we are living our lives saying no to ourselves and others, and to Life itself. I would call this “living through the no”.

And then there are those of us who look at our lives from a completely different lens.  Our lives are more like a river than a tapestry.  What makes up our lives is the ever-changing bedrock of our past experiences, and the rough banks of our personal boundaries.  We know our lives change and evolve.  There is room for growth, movement, changes in direction, and there is no longer an attempt to keep still and stagnant and present the perfect picture to the world.  

When people meet us, they may meet us during a still, soft point, so they sit on the rocks and admire all we do and what we represent.  Others may meet us during the rapids, where the only way through is a life-jacket and total trust.  

We change, we grow, we burst through in unexpected ways.  

We see our lives as a series of twists and turns and ultimately, choices, that have created this incredible river of who we are.  We are patient with ourselves when things take a turn, and we celebrate others who have this river-gene.  I would call this “living through the yes”.


I spent the first part of my young adult life building the tapestry.  And it worked.  For a while.  I went along and quietly hated myself, and put on that perfect face to all who didn’t know me (and many who did).  

I said no to myself, and yes to everyone else.

And then one day, with the help of loving forces beyond my understanding, my river-self burst forth.  She was unpredictable. She was passionate.  She was uncontrollable.  She made people uncomfortable (especially those who had no idea how to swim in their own emotions!).  And as I learned how to be as this new self, I forgot the need for no.  I would say yes to everything and everyone.

And that was dangerous.

I let a lot of people down.

I let myself down a lot.

So today, I have a new way.  As soon as I start feeling the no bubbling up inside me, I voice it.  I don’t wait for the right moment or until I think the other person will be able to “handle it” better.  I don’t be nicey-nice about it and apologize for the decision I made.  I do try to be loving and gentle, but most people I know have a hard time hearing a no from me, so they are often wounded by it anyway.  

I am learning to be okay with that.

It’s different from the no of before, the tapestry-self no.  That version of me said no to stay safe, and keep my life predictable.  That self said no to my own needs, wants, and dreams, while presenting a “yes-(wo)man” front.  

This no comes from deep within me.  Sometimes it’s hard to hear it, but it’s always there.  It says, “Hey girl, why don’t you stop doing that for a while and try this new thing/person/adventure?” And when I listen to it right away, it’s like ripping a band-aid off.  And when I don’t, I whirl inside, creating anxiety and depression and illness and broken relationships.

I have learned that no is important.  That no is needed.  That no is critical for my health and my wellness and my relationships.  I have also learned I can say no and still be the river.  Actually, I can become a more enticing river when I am willing to change my course.

Today, I invite you to join me in changing course.  There are changes coming up to the work I will be doing and the ideas I will be presenting to you.  Sometimes you may love the floating ride, and some days you will feel like you are drowning.  Hang in there!  Only the toughest, most aligned will survive this river.  And honestly, not everyone loves to get wet.  If you are ready to dive in, join my mailing list, and let’s do this together.


It’s your life, and only you can live it.

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira (she/her) provides mental health support through individual counselling, groups, immersive workshops/courses, and free educational content. Over the last 14 years, we have helped men and women of many backgrounds find answers to their questions about work, life, love, and meaning. Much mainstream psychology overlooks spirituality, family values, and community context, so we have decided to specialize in serving clients who are ready for change and also want to include their cultural values and spiritual beliefs into therapy.

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