Thursday, November 10, 2011

Finding Freedom in No

I have trouble saying "No" to anyone.

Even when I want to say no, I say it in a way that people understand it as a yes.

"I'll think about that."

"That sounds like a good idea, I'll see."
"I'll get back to you."
Granted, those are very weak ways to say no, but that's just me. This causes endless days of anguish for me as I try to work my way out of an invitation or a request and it drains me of positive energy.
My partner Frank takes a different approach. He simply says "NO!" and then goes on with what he's doing - or not doing!
I must admit that I find it amusing when he says it the way he does - even when it's directed at me - but he looks you directly in the eye and says it with a smile. I know that the response comes from his heart and brings peaceful settlement to him.
Saying no to somebody when we are used to saying yes can be challenging as we fear we will be rejected.
Many of us, from childhood on, are taught that saying yes is right and saying no is wrong. We learn that acceding to demands allows us to avoid conflict and criticism, please people, earn praise, and prove that we care for the important people in our lives. Yet the right to say no is indelibly intertwined with the ability to make choices. 
When we sense we are limited in our options, compelled to say yes even when doing so is not in our interests, we are effectively robbed of our ability to choose. 
Growing out of this tendency to say yes even when we desperately want to say no can be challenging because we suspect that others will reject us for our assertiveness. 
However, the reward we receive upon facing this challenge is true freedom of choice.
When others ask us to take on work or do favors, consider their requests carefully.
If we feel pressed to say yes, we need to consider whether we are acquiescing out of a desire for approval or to stave off disapproval. We need to remind ourselves often that the ability to say no is an important aspect of well-being, as it is an indication that we understand the true value of our energy, talents, and time. 
As we learn to articulate our personal power by saying no, we may feel compelled to explore the myriad consequences of the word by responding negatively to many or most of the requests put to us. The word “no” may even become our default response for some time. 
Once we see that life moves forward without interruption, however, we will grow more comfortable saying no and will resume making decisions from a point of balance.

There is nothing inherently wrong with acceding to the requests others make of us, provided these requests do not infringe upon our health or our happiness.
It is only when we believe we have the legitimate right to say no that we can say yes with utmost certainty, sincerity, and enthusiasm. 
While saying yes almost always has a cost, we can feel good about offering our agreement when our reasons for doing so are rooted in our individual values and your appreciation for the appeal before us.

With love & light,


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