Quality: Saying Yes to saying No
Consider this: no is just a word. Really, it is a simple two letter word. The weight and meaning we give it as the speaker or the receiver is what gives it its power. No is a particularly important word and it can be a very difficult word for many of us to say, especially women. From a very young child, we are taught that we are most loved when we are helpful, pleasing to the eye, and pleasant in nature. Said differently, we are trained to crave feeling needed and accepted.
When our contribution is genuinely appreciated, we feel loved and blessed. We have family and friends that work with us at every level - from the chores of tending to home to being thought partners to working alongside us in some of our endeavors. When we need others to contribute to us, they are there.
When our contribution is taken for granted we feel used, depleted. We may sink into negative self-talk, adding to our feeling depleted. Feeling depleted can reinforce negative self-talk, causing us to self-medicate. We decide to do better, which really means doing more. When the results are the same, the cycle repeats.
Learning to say yes to ourselves can be one of the most important practices we can develop.
Saying yes to saying no is an important tool and skill of self-care. It causes us to question the social notion that we are responsible for the feelings and well-being of others – we are not. We teach our children – and sometimes our partners, what it takes to produce the items they love to receive from us. We learn that there is a difference between helping, rescuing, and assisting, guiding, coaching, and working with someone. We realize we are enough.
Certainly, there are situations when we may need to pick-up the mantel and take the lead. However, it’s important to recognize that doesn’t mean we have to take over. Saying yes to saying no causes us to recognize that we do not have to do it alone. It is not our place to rescue folks – no matter how much we love them – and we can coach, teach, support another to success. We can organize our team, family, friends – strangers – to resource and work with us toward goals, changes, transformations that serve all involved.
This transforms how we approach another’s need, especially another adult. We are able to respects a person’s, a group’s humanity. We begin from a place of partnering. No rescuing. No seeking to be the hero – Do you realize how much work it is rescue? To be a hero?
If you find yourself anxiety ridden at the possibility of saying no, delay reacting or responding and talk to your anxiety and the underlying fears. You may discover that the true motivator to saying yes, especially when you genuinely want to say no, is a deep cavernous longing to belong or to be needed. Tapping into that longing may feel overwhelming and terrifying, so I’m letting you know, now – it's just a feeling. It can seem like an eternity. Yet, if you ride the wave – remembering that anxiety lies, doesn’t trust the present, is suspicious of the future, and cherry picks the past – in a few moments you could arrive at the no you seek or negotiate a yes feels mutually beneficial.
Saying yes to saying no will decrease your stress which will strengthen your immune system and increase your overall well-being. Saying yes to saying no causes us to prioritize our ongoing commitments and to value the relationships and practices that feed us, sustain us.
© Sabrina Sojourner 2020