The Great Exhaustion: The Power of No

…and owning your Inner Yes. A series on how we can un-exhaust ourselves

8 min readOct 26, 2022


photo: anna nygard

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Great Exhaustion. The idea that many of us are quitting jobs en masse not simply because we are tired of them, but because we are quite frankly, tired. Our candles are out. I’d go a step further and assert that the Great Exhaustion is an internal boundary raising where we as a collective are exploring that which no longer serves us. In follow up pieces, I explored the power of listening to our feelings and embracing the slow lane on the highway to healing and building a better life.

This new series is going to be on tactics to un-exhaust ourselves. If we know we’re all tired, how do we reclaim our energy? I have had a lot of time this year to really think (and sit) deeply with this issue. I will reiterate once again, that this process will take time. I have learned that the slow lane is ironically the carpool lane to healing. The more you try to quickly throw money, practitioners or new healing fads against restoration, the slower you will go. The pendulum is swinging back from a world of fast, mindless and cheap to thoughtful, languorous and valuable.

photo: matthew henry

The first subject I want to tackle on reclaiming our energy and un-exhausting ourselves is the power of saying no. This is also the power to meet, know and own your inner yes. For some, quitting jobs that no longer served them was the first time in a long time that they’ve honored their inner yes. It is energizing and life affirming when we are in alignment with what our soul craves. Yet, so often, we say yes to people, places and things that don’t serve us. We do it for a variety of reasons: fear that we can’t get what we want, people pleasing, wanting to avoid retaliation, habit, unconscious patterns we’ve had since childhood and more.

On the path to un-exhaustion, one of the things I’ve discovered is that I can boost my energy in a profound way through micro changes. One of these micro changes is what I call, the Power of No. Here’s a story of how this looks in my life. Spoiler: it’s a messy and imperfect growth process, but it is growth nonetheless.

photo: sharon carr

The Power of No

My doctor was concerned about neck and joint pain that I consistently have. (Remnants of a 2008 accident where I almost died.) She told me to seek out a specific form of chiropractic called Atlas Orthogonal. This practice uses no cracking or jarring movements, but rather focuses on upper cervical alignment through gentle tools. I looked for a practitioner near me, found one that was highly rated on Yelp and Google and called their office. The receptionist told me it would cost $125 for my first visit, which seemed fair and off I went.

When I arrived, I met the doctor. He had many books by practitioners my doctor had studied under. I mentally checked this as a good sign. He told me how he had been doing this work for 30 years. He then proceeded to tell me that we would “get to the Atlas Orthogonal work” but for now, he wanted to start with something else. I said nothing. He was the expert, right? He made some comments I felt uncomfortable about. Yet, again, I stayed quiet. He did a minor adjustment on me and when I was done, I was charged $200. He then asked if I wanted to schedule a follow up for Saturday… and I said yes.

Friends, why did I say yes?

I would argue there are myriad reasons. One being that it’s a bad habit. Another being a fear that a medical professional somehow knows me better than I know myself. But another part of why I said yes was because I afraid to say no in that moment. I also wasn’t consciously aware of how I really didn’t like the treatment I got. In that moment, I had an internal bias to yes that was trying to believe this was the right chiropractor for me. I didn’t want to have to deal with finding someone else. (Who does in a world where we want things now, now, now!)

The next morning when I woke up, I thought, “I went to that doctor specifically for Atlas Orthogonal treatment and he didn’t give it to me. I was also overcharged. I also think some of his comments were weird. That’s not OK. I’m going to cancel my next appointment and find another doctor.” So, that’s what I did. My new doctor is a lovely woman who gave me exactly what I requested, charged the fees originally stated and is very professional. There is a previous version of myself who would have continued to see that doctor for months before changing her mind. I have compassion for her. There is also a future me who can say “no” in the moment. I see her on the horizon.

By the way, I didn’t call the first doctor’s office and cause a stink as I canceled my appointment. When I called, I stated my cancellation request and asked his receptionist about the billing discrepancy. I was given a murky answer. Rather than arguing, which is exhausting — I let it slide knowing I was taking care of myself by going elsewhere.

photo: jon tyson

On To The Inner Yes

When we say “yes” when we really want to say “no,” we feel internal discomfort. It’s that party you really don’t want to go to (or host). That business call you agreed to that you don’t think is necessary. That acquaintance who thinks you’re friends, but you don’t and you don’t want to hang out with them. Saying “yes” to all these internal “no’s” is exhausting.

The good news however, is as you start learning in to the Power of No… you will begin to know your Inner Yes. The window of time between an inauthentic “yes” and a course-corrected “no” will begin to shrink also. You’ll start to feel like a superhero.

Now there’s a caveat to this, there are some things in life we need to say “yes” to even when we don’t want to. In Shonda Rhimes book, Year of Yes, she details how her life dramatically changed when she stopped saying “no” to *everything* and began to show up for her life. Things that will help us grow beyond comfort zones, give up limiting beliefs, bring positive change, improve our health and restore us are generally a good choice to say Yes to.

For all the areas where we give an inauthentic “yes,” there are also areas in our lives where we have a far too convenient “no.” For me, it’s generally anything involving driving more than 10 miles. I’m a native Angeleno and I like to stay in my comfort zone. Other easy “no’s” for me are cardio, reading long books (apologies to my former academic self), doing another social media detox, or being told to avoid sweets.

As we start to learn when we need to say “no,” we will also be able to become aware of the areas where we need to say yes.

I’ll give you an example. I love yoga. But I joke that my practice became “competitive yoga.” You see this a lot in L.A. Classes seem to be a competition between who can do an inversion or side crow all while the teacher says things like, “Now, remember, do what feels right for your body and take it slow.” You never see yoga influencers showing themselves in a 2 minute child’s pose, it’s always some insane balance maneuver above a beautiful vista. Right?

This year, I have done more restorative yoga than ever before in my life. It is slow. It is not impressive. The internal results however, are. I have connected deeply to the breath. I have focused on hip openers to release grief. I have said “yes” to a form of yoga that I have found restores my energy and un-exhausts me better than any other kind. This comes after years of praticing restorative yoga, yin and yoga nidra on a very casual basis. I now crave it.

photo: santiago vellini

In closing, I’d like to leave you with some questions as we embark on this journey to un-exhaust ourselves. You can write down your answers in a journal, below in the comments, or just think about them during meditation or a walk. Whatever feels right is the right path and you can even answer only a few versus all of them.

  1. Where in your life do you say “yes” when you need to say “no”?
  2. Where this week or today did you say “yes” when you needed to say “no”?
  3. Where can you change that answer and restore some of your energy?
  4. Where in your life do you say “no,” when you need to say “yes” (or even “maybe”)?
  5. Where are you living out of alignment with what you really want?
  6. What are you afraid will happen if you honor the Power of No and your Inner Yes?
  7. What gentle boundaries can you set up for yourself to avoid an inauthentic “yes” or an easy “no”? (i.e. Telling someone you’ll get back to them after you have some time to think about it, not reply to an email or text right away…)

My next piece will be about un-exhausting through raising our standards, establishing boundaries and slaying the energy vampires in our lives. Just in time for Halloween.

(BTW, if you made this far and want to learn more about me, you can do so here.)




@Tatiana pretty much everywhere. I see you. Early adopter. Later regretter. // Marketer, Musician, Motivation // Coach/ Consultant: