The Freedom To Say No.
Today is July 4th or Independence Day in the US. We celebrate the decision as a nation to declare our independence in the most important document in our history.
We looked at tolerations in the more physical realm yesterday – fixing those cracks in the windshield or catching up with a friend.
What would it take to declare our own sovereignty? Our ability to choose only those things that are absolutely necessary for us to be the most happy and successful?
How do you feel about those commitments you’ve made to others that you know you can’t easily fulfill? Those things that you’ve committed to that are now draining you every time you think about showing up or doing whatever it is you said you would do? These are tolerations too.
When we say yes more often than we mean to, out of a sense of obligation or feeling coerced, we find ourselves doing things that carry resentment or even downright anger. And the anger isn’t usually directed solely at the person we said yes to. More often than not, our anger is felt internally – directed straight to our own heart – because we failed to say no. And that takes a toll on our ability to love ourselves and to express self care.
“Why did I commit to this? Why can’t I say NO!? Why do I let (him/her) make me feel this way?”
Have you said this?
No is a complete sentence. A complete paragraph. But there is an art to saying no and it’s one that must be practiced frequently in order to execute it in a way that works best.
One of the most important self-care techniques is learning to say no. Not too long ago, I found a video that really developed the art of saying No for me. This concept of the Positive No works in personal day-to day and professional circumstances. The Positive No starts with a review of all the good things about the opportunity or request. And then those good things are measured against what else is really wonderful and currently most important and a decision is made. This works well for me because, honestly, I have discovered that most often, when I must say no it’s because I have so many other truly wonderful things I need to say yes to! (More on that tomorrow.)
Sound confusing? Here’s a video explaining how to use a Positive No to create better work life balance or to change your commitment.
And sometimes we have to say no to ourselves. For me, when faced with figuring out how much I can do in a day, I often overestimate. I think I am Wonder Woman! So when I am looking at scheduling things, I have to be more realistic.
When I am looking at scheduling clients plus writing plus a speaking engagement plus….I take a look at all the wonderful things that are contained within that list. I think about the great opportunities that are in front of me. And BECAUSE these things are all so great, I am going to choose to do these things today and not those. And I think about when I might have a better amount of time to get this or that thing done.
Most people tell me they don’t have time or room for self care in their lives because they are too busy. So today, take a look at the Positive No and see if it helps you learn to say no more easily, to yourself and to others. After all, what we want is to create some space for self care beyond this 30 days.
Blank space is allowed and encouraged. It’s called Self-Care.
What would have to change for you in order to easily say no?
So today, take a few moments to think about what you have committed to and whether you have the capacity to continue this commitment. Who or what do you wish you had said or could say no to? Can you use the Positive No to eliminate this toleration and find more time for self- care or for things that make you feel more in line with your time and priorities?
Can you jot down a few words about how you will approach a situation with a Positive No?
How can you remind yourself to pause, take a breath and create some time to carefully consider decisions without automatically saying, “yes!”?
PS – there’s a theory about the difference between men and women. It goes like this: If a woman makes a to-do list, she will write those to-dos on the entire span of the paper until she’s filled up the space. She’ll keep searching for things to do in order to have a complete document. Sometimes, she will even write down those few things she has already done so that she feels more accomplished. As though what she’s writing isn’t already enough. And, if someone calls while she’s making the to-do list and says, “Can you bake cookies for the class tomorrow?” Or, “Can you drive the kids to camp for me in the morning?” her immediate reaction might be , “yes!” She may say, “I’ve got room on my to-do list to squeeze that in.”
Men, on the other hand, just write down the one or three most important to-dos and leave the rest of the space blank. They may look at the top three things they should get done in one day. Just three.
Never fear – tomorrow, we’ll work on what to say YES!!! to.