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  • Writer's pictureMariana Carvalho

“No” is a Complete Sentence

In the last newsletter, I talked about self-love and taking care of yourself. The importance of enjoying one’s own company and loving leisure time “to one”.

Self-love manifests itself in many ways. By taking care of our bodies by going to the gym. By having annual check-ups with our doctors. By saying words of affection when we look in the mirror in the morning. By doing therapy. By preserving healthy relationships and distancing ourselves from people who hurt us. I always found it difficult to practice self-love when I entered work mode.

I always want to give more of myself and do more. Perform more. Deliver more. Work more. Neglecting my 45 minutes of class at the gym to finish that ppt. Sleeping late to redo the report the boss asked for after hours. Put aside my passions and cover my days and nights with work only.

The clock is ticking. With social media, it’s easy to be available 24/7. We are not, for God’s sake!

I recently wrote an article about burnout. I’m still recovering.

As José Saramago says: “You need to leave the island to see the island”. And going on medical leave was my departure from the island. Today I see what shook me, what took me off track, and how I lost my identity and set aside my self-love.

Today, I see the island.

One of the things I noticed right away was how difficult it was to set boundaries. My inability to say “no”.

More than saying no, it was difficult to say: “no, I can’t”, “no, I am not available”, “No, I don’t want to,” and “no, I don’t know”. How come I can’t? How come I don’t know? How can I say that I don’t want something? (only therapy to explain that last one and my 10/10 ability to be a people-pleaser).

Leaving the island, I learned that saying yes to one task is saying no to many others. And usually, these others are the most important in our life.

Leaving the island, I learned that saying no is already a complete sentence. That needs no justification.

The people around you, intentionally or not, will always demand. Ever. It’s your role to say no when necessary. It’s your role to set boundaries to protect your time, your schedule, and your mental health.

How have you been saying “no” to all the demands that come you way?

I want to close out this article with one of my favorite songs, from Harrison Storm:

“Darling you need to keep breathing…” — Be Slow

And a book, Essentialism, by Greg McKeown. He talks about focus and how to distinguish what is essential and what is not in our lives based on our values and priorities:


Mariana Carvalho is a writer, career mentor, Latino 30 Under 30 2022 by El Mundo Boston magazine, Mentor of the Year 2023 by WomenTech Network, with over 12 years of professional experience, the last 7 in corporate America. Connect: Mentoring | Medium | LinkedIn | Instagram | Threads | Website

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