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Updated: Dec 3, 2021

November is typically a transitional month for me. The season is changing, the clock falls back and I quickly miss the sunlight. But my biggest challenge in November is the rush of trying to finish up projects that are due by the end of year. Sounds like a bit of procrastination right? Some of these projects come with self-imposed timelines, but no matter if they come from myself or from others, they all bring on a ton of stress. On November 10, 2017, I was hit from behind while driving on a major highway during rush hour heading to an event. By the grace of God, I managed to not hit anyone in front of me. I took on all the impact of the pickup truck flying behind me and my car was totaled and I spent many years doing some sort of physical even mental therapy to get better. Ever since the car wreck, my body is pretty much a wreck in November. My doctors let me know the physical trauma from the car wreck also left emotional trauma that the body remembers around the same time every year. I’ve noticed that this “emotional trauma” makes for having a difficult November on top of all the additional stress I seem to already carry into and throughout November. Instead of just coping and dealing with the recurring reminder again this year, I opted to start truly healing the emotional trauma in hopes that it will help the physical healing that I continue to work on daily.

I’m sure you’re asking what is the “NO”vember Challenge, yes it’s in the name, but it’s so much more than just saying No, No, No, No, No. The “NO”vember Challenge is a way to refocus the power we give away when we don’t apply “NO” to situations, our own thoughts, reliving trauma, even saying “NO” to people that deserve to be on the receiving end of a that “NO”. Saying “NO” can definitely be used to take back your power, set some boundaries and used to check your own negative thoughts. Those 2 little letters “N O” has the potential to refill your cup!

With everything going on in the world, to me the “NO”vember Challenge was right on time! Don’t worry, if you missed it this year, you don’t have to wait until next November to begin saying “NO”. You can start the 30 day challenge any month or day of the year. Remember you can take 1 challenge reminder and focus on it or you can take all 30 challenge reminders and spread the challenge over a couple of months!

Below are 10 lessons that I took away from this year’s “NO”vember Challenge. This was my first year to implement the power of my “NO” to heal from my previous car wreck that has caused lingering physical and emotional trauma. I also used it to deal with overthinking, being stressed out and working towards knocking down my list of what I will overcome (more on that shortly). Everyone’s experience will be different; however, I do sincerely hope that you get something out of the “NO”vember Challenge like I did. I’m always up for recharging my self-care routine and practicing mental well-being so the posts that I selected had exactly that in mind, recharging along with challenging myself! Over 30 days in November, I intentionally created reminders that would be thought provoking. Most were written and created by myself, but I did run across some cool “NO”vember Challenge posts that I adapted the reminders from.

Don’t forget to let me know what you think! To see all 30 posts from November, check out Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn @DrTaraReed.

Lesson 1: I almost gave up on day 2. Yes day 2. I didn’t realize I was already deep into saying yes to projects, people, basically anybody or anything but myself. So turning some of my yesses to NOs was looking more like a mountain and not like a mole hill to get over. And did I say it was only day 2? I am grateful that my determination, faith and strength, kicked in or this blog entry would have gone totally another way. You would be reading more about how I failed rather than reading about the lessons I’ve learned. Why quit now before you find out if the challenge works or not? Remember, never give up…ok!

Lesson 2: Did you know that you don’t have to do it all yourself. That it’s ok to ask for help? Remember, these are the lessons that I learned during the “NO”vember Challenge and this one was truly eye opening for me. Instead of me using my “NO” to say I’m not going to do everything all by myself, I was using my “NO” to tell my friends, family members, pretty much anyone that offered to help I didn’t need it, when I really did. Now I agree, that this may not be the end result every time; however, I’m betting that asking for help or accepting help is an underused tool to reclaiming some of our own time back. Think about it!

Lesson 3: Saying “NO” isn’t always meant to be a mean way of telling people to leave you alone. Saying “No” is good for setting boundaries. But sometimes people don’t pick up on the vibe you are sending out so, use that “NO” with good intention…to be heard!

Lesson 4: The “NO”vember Challenge post, which reads “No act of kindness is ever wasted”, hit home for me on #WorldKindnessDay. Just in case you are like me and have never heard of World Kindness Day, the purpose of this day celebrated on the 13th of November each year is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together. This understanding has the power to bridge the gap between nations.

Lesson 5: Saying “NO” to things that aren’t priorities opens up space to say “Yes” to things that are important! It has been months since I’ve written a blog entry. I have had plenty of thoughts to share, yet the time to write the blog never made it to the top of my to do list. Does this sound familiar? Putting everyone else’s needs above our own? It’s easy to do. Before you know it time has flown by and you still haven’t gotten to your own list. I decided to say “NO” to a couple of requests this month and ta-da I’m back writing, doing what I love and miss. It was so worth opening up the space to put me first!

Lesson 6: You can be a good person with a kind heart and still say “NO”. I am still processing this message. Like many people I was conditioned to think hearing “NO” was a negative; therefore saying “NO” could be used as a weapon. It doesn’t have to be either! Retraining our thoughts to embrace empathy, compassion and understanding that all “NO’s” aren’t bad whether giving or receiving them is life changing!

Lesson 7: You can find a new path if you stick to it! Half way through the “NO”vember Challenge, the message and lesson that touched my spirit, and I’m pretty sure it came from my dear friend that recently passed away, led me to embracing this reminder, say “NO” to Living in Fear and say “Yes” to (L.I.F.E.) Living In Faith Everyday! The “NO”vember Challenge really strengthened my faith. I’m still here despite being hit from behind on the freeway and living with physical and emotional trauma for years. One of the things that I did for myself is I wrote a list of things that I will overcome and FEAR was at the top. Try writing out your list of declaration of what you plan to overcome especially as we move into the new year. What can you leave behind in 2021 and take into 2022!

Lesson 8: That “NO” can be a set up to an even bigger yes. It can also allow you time to get yourself together. “NO” doesn’t have to be the end. “NO” can provide the pause that will allow you to rest, reset and comeback stronger!

Lesson 9: You don’t have to complete the “NO”vember challenge in 30 days. Trust me it wasn’t the easiest to stick to! The more I tried to implement the daily challenge reminders, the more curve balls started being thrown my way. However, the challenge reminders are created to help keep you going. Change, growth, introspection all take time to turn the new found knowledge into a belief or way of life. Sometimes before you can move on from that day’s “NO”vember Challenge reminder to the next challenge reminder, you have to stay still and think about it deeper for the entire week, maybe even for the entire month before you have that aha moment! I’m pretty sure I broke the challenge rules and I went back and revisited previous reminders constantly. I can honestly say, without the “NO”vember challenge reminders I would still be stuck in my October mindset of saying “NO” due to pride or saying “YES” due to weakness. The trauma of the car wreck did raise its ugly little head, but with my newly equipped “NO” to letting the wreck continue to impact me years later, I was ready physically and mentally. My body, mind and spirit definitely appreciated the “NO”vember Challenge!

Lesson 10: There are many ways to communicate your power of “NO”. Hold up, I’m making sure by now you understand “NO” packs some power! Sometimes it’s a verbal “Nope, Not this time, No thank you, Nah, I’m gonna pass this time” that will offer you freedom for self-care and to make yourself the priority. Other times it takes a nonverbal action of physically walking away from negativity, setting boundaries, stopping yourself from overthinking to be able rest your mind and be at peace. Then there are those times when listening to songs that speak to your soul with scriptures and lyrics such as “No weapons formed against me shall prosper” or “No more drama” by MJB that motivate you to keep going and never give up.

My overall lesson learned is that I am the Master of My Fate, I am the Captain of My Soul. We really do have choices. Now how we interpret said choice may need a little tweaking every now and then, but taking back your power is worth never giving up and constantly trying to be healthier and happier mentally, physically and spiritually! It’s okay to put your needs as a priority. If you are depleted we all lose!

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