Ways To Say No
We’ve all heard of the power of No-right? Well why did it take me so long to learn it? That’s what I’m musing over as I sit here in the dark under the porch light typing away outside on what might be one of the nicest fall evenings we’ve had this September in Seattle.
For a long time I’ve ruminated over Henry Cloud’s book Boundaries. When to say yes, when to say no to take control of your life. Although I read the book nearly 11 years ago to this day I can’t shake one of the mantra’s I picked up reading the book, “Without a no, you can’t have a yes.”
I must confess. I’ve suffered from a lifetime affliction and aversion to NO.
I don’t know when it began, somewhere back when I was under 2 feet tall with curly hair, a big smile and a desire to soak up all the love I could find. I left the gr-animal outfits behind when I entered middle school but my obsession with yes grew into a full blown life condition by the time I graduated. I was the go to ‘YES’ girl. I truly believed someone, somewhere was keeping score and that my YES’s were adding up in some sort of heavenly bank account.
Was it that I wasn’t allowed a ‘no?’ Was it that ‘no’ was rarely whispered at my house? Was it that as a child my sense of self was so tied to my parents I didn’t even consider my answer COULD be different than the request made ? I can’t tell you why I was so YES obsessed, only that somewhere along my journey I decided that ‘no’ was inferior to ‘yes’ and more importantly that uttering ‘no’ was worse than any confession I’d ever make in that small, stuffy confessional at the back of the church.
If you could you must. And mostly I believed I could. I could everything.
You could say living without a ‘no’ taught me how dangerous ‘yes’ can be.
I’m finally learning how to say no. And what healed me? Merely running all my life resources to near depletion because of my YES obsession…. .
So ways to say no? Well, there’s the country twang NAH, the hysterical screaming NOOOO, the polite, slight no, the exasperated absolutely no, the I can’t believe you’re asking again no, the foot stomping mad no, the quiet strong no, the laughing hilarious NOWAY….And the list goes on. But mostly there’s the ‘no’ ‘that shows up when the choice in front of you is not congruent with your priorities, values or in your best interest. Seems no is easier when you are crystal clear on YES, what you want to say yes too.
The real trick to boundaries at work, in relationships at home and at play is to get clear on what we want. Clear priorities and well defined values are the foundation of effective decision making. A good dose of reality is helpful to. We only have so many resources; time, physical energy, health, spiritual energy, intellectual capacity, emotional energy. ‘Yes’ is a statement of investment. It is the decision to invest one of our resources into something. ‘No’ is a decision to not invest, to save our resources for another opportunity.
A life of harmony and integrity demands that we make wise and conscious decisions with our vital life resources. Yes; invest in those things you value and return the life you want.
NO divest of investments that detract from who you want to be, your values and goals.
Ways to say no. Finding your no. The power of your no. It’s the path to a life that shouts YES!