I’m trying. I’m not there yet. I still say yes to almost everything.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I am not ready to become a curmudgeon.
As I have said before, I am not the guy that yells at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn. I don’t ever want to be that “guy.”
However, seconds after I say yes to certain things I regret saying yes. It’s not that I don’t want to help people or assist when and where I can. It is more of a mindset in my head. I have never been able to really say no to things. My mind screams no and my lips say yes.
Don’t misinterpret what I am saying or meaning… I will always do for my family and what I feel is necessary. I will say yes to almost anything for my family.
In addition, I am learning that with over 40 years working I have said yes to just about everything at the places I was employed. If it wasn’t illegal or immoral I would do anything I ever was asked. I now see that the hours that I stayed late without pay and all of the “stuff” I did still finds me unemployed at 58. I lost my job due to a corporate buyout and I have worked the last year closing down the business I sweat blood for. At no fault of my own… saying yes to everything related to my job still lead to my unemployment.
Sometimes I feel like a target, meaning people learn who will say yes and who will say no to things. When you deal with these people and you finally say no… all hell breaks loose. Some people who I finally had to say no to a few things have completely cut me out of their life and they went on to take advantage of others. I am no worse for them doing that.
I’m slowly learning that one of the most liberating parts of getting older is learning how beautiful and empowering it is to say no. The keyword there is learning… because I have to change my mindset to convince my lips to say no.
I haven’t said it much, or at least I don’t think I have.
I think we could use a little more “no” in the world.
And, of course, I understand how much we all love the word “yes” and the kind-hearted people who use it. It’s such a generous word—the ultimate people-pleaser.
In fact, let’s call “yes” the hero of the dictionary—a positive affirmation for what is possible.
To say yes is to join in, take charge, and find a way to make something happen. To say yes is to move mountains, find cures, and solve problems. Yes, pushes the boundaries and takes us to places we never thought we’d go.
You want a beautiful next chapter of life? Say yes, every chance you get. Yes, to a better job, yes to more health, improved relationships, and new adventures. Yes, to joy, challenge, laughter, peace, compassion, happiness, and love.
Saying yes can rock your world. And I’m all for it.
However, like all good paradoxes, yes can also destroy us or turn us into puppets and clones.
Yes, can make us do things we don’t want to do or more importantly it can make us do things we shouldn’t do.
Yes, may be the language of the hero, but no is the language of the walk-to-your-own-beat, live your own truth warrior.
If yes is Superman, no is Batman.
Batman is a bit darker, but still, a superhero and arguably the second most powerful word in our vocabulary is no.
I have always considered myself more of a Batman as opposed to Superman… lol.
Yes, my friends, it’s time to shake our heads and wag our fingers. It’s time to border up the windows, lock the doors, and learn how to say no.
If it makes it easier to swallow, think about it as saying say yes to no.
Learning to say no can lead to and finding a beautiful yes.
Your life will never be the same.
Something to Ponder:
A good no shouldn’t be defiant, unyielding, absolute, or without motivation. That’s not the knee-jerk liberation we seek. A good no should be quiet and confident, a peaceful mantra for living your authentic truth.
Challenging Ways to Practice Saying No
Here are a few suggestions for putting a few more life-affirming no’s into your life. I am sure that you can add a few of your own…
- Say no to putting yourself last. You can’t give away what you don’t have, whether that’s energy, love, humor, or joy. Take care of yourself first, and the world will be better off.
- Say no to too much overtime, unreasonable deadlines, and impossible workloads that leave no time for joy and a deeper search for meaning. Schedule your life so that your work serves your inner and outer worlds. Make the same time and commitment for your inner journey that you do for your career or your family.
- Say no to excessive television, electronics, news, politics, gossip, food, drink, or anything that brings you imbalance, fatigue, and illness, no matter how harmless, pleasurable, or intoxicating it may be.
- And while you’re at it, say no to people who try to make you feel guilty for not doing more.
- Say no to friends who infringe on your space, covet your time, suck your energy, and give nothing in return (you know who they are). Aim for creativity and compassion as you firmly put this into practice.
- Say no to work you don’t want to do, places you don’t want to live, and situations that no longer serve your needs.
- Say no to blindly adopting the attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets of those around you. Discover new ones that challenge and inspire you to live and create differently.
- Say no to always being the knight in shining armor. While it’s great to be there for others, don’t get trapped into thinking it always has to be you who is the shoulder to cry on, throw the surprise party, or house-sit the neighbor’s pet. This can be hard, especially when it comes to family and friends, but if your no comes neutrally and from the place of your truth, it’s the right word. If someone resents you for it, then the favor wasn’t asked with a spirit of gratitude, which validates that it wasn’t in harmony for you to say yes in the first place.
The beauty of no is that it asks us what to leave out. “No,” asks us to recognize what doesn’t work, and in doing so, to discover what does.
When you think about it… no is yes in disguise—a small shake of the head that becomes the line we draw in the sand—a choice and a statement of what we believe and how we want to live.
Yes or no should not define you… this should:
The truth is that life isn’t about which side you’re on, which candidate you support, which views you hold on an issue but life is about how you treat one another.
Are you kind? Do you see others as more important than yourself? Do you yield at the light? Maybe open the door for an elderly person? Say thank you? Do you tip well? Do you help those who are struggling? Encourage those who are down? Life is not a competition to see who wins. If any of us lose we all lose.
My favorite verse is hidden at the end of 1 Corinthians. It’s verse 16:14- “Do everything in love.”
That’s it. Four words.
And they sum up a life lived well.
Don’t live in fear, live boldly, love well and see those around you.
If they don’t finish well then neither do you.
Saying No… just may be our secret weapon for a better life for you and those around you.