The NO word

How many times have I said no?  Not often actually.  Usually the yes word comes into my vocabulary very quickly. Why is that?  Could it be that I truly want to be the go to person? Could it be that I think I can do everything? Maybe. Maybe it is the fear of rejection. Maybe it is the non-understanding of what the word yes, and what the word no means. As I sit here this evening pondering this elusive question, I begin to wonder, why is it that I feel so completely compelled to do EVERYTHING that is asked of me. I look back to my childhood. I remember a girl who so wanted to be liked by everyone. I had a couple of good friends, but in elementary school, even back then there were the bullies. They were not as sneaky as they are today. We had to use pen and paper to do something horrible to another person. It was not the immediate response as it is now. Consequently, it was not as tragic as it is today, but still quite impactful to me and to a small girl with a southern accent, it was scary.  I was a tad different.  I wanted so bad to fit in. To be a girl just like everyone else was. So, I adapted. I started at a very early age to be what everyone wanted me to be. I did what everyone wanted me to do. Friends, parents, teachers. I was the good girl. I never got into trouble. I received the good grades. Now, let me be very clear here. I did not act like the troubled child. I tried as hard as I could to be the good example for my siblings, my friends and my superiors. And it worked until very recently. As I have said before, my world crashed down and I became a zombie wife, mom, volunteer and friend. I went thru the motions. I always said yes. The questions run thru my mind in droves. Hey, can you volunteer for this class? Yes. Hey can you volunteer for a soccer league, Yes. Can you drive me to Sally’s house, yes. Can you bring me my lunch, I forgot it, yes. I said yes to everything, school functions, conferences, kid’s activity volunteer, mission trips, suicide prevention awareness, friends in need. EVERYTHING. The list of Yeses could take up pages. I did not understand that I have it in my power to say, ”NO!! I can’t do that.”
Learning to say no was such a struggle. My internal voice, the one I had for so incredibly long and trusted, had completely quit talking to me. I was not listening to anything but the negatives running thru my brain. I had completely quit trusting my gut instinct. I was, at one time, involved in: a large conference (One of the Directors), the Executive Secretary/treasurer for a suicide awareness group, organizing a mission trip to deliver glasses to people in Ecuador, starting a major remodel on my home (I was designing it myself), a brand spanking new granddaughter, and keeping everyone happy and feeling guilty when I could not be home to make dinner for whatever family was there. I put these pressures on myself. Not one single person had said to me “You must do this, or else!” I was the only voice in my head putting these emotions and words and agreements into my being. I had been saying yes to everyone else and no to anything I needed. I no longer had an identity.  However, saying yes to everyone was clearly not working for me. Then I had “THE MELTDOWN”. It has taken a few years. Learning that saying no is an act of Love. To myself, to my family and to my friends. NO is a boundary. No is a powerful word. Here is the thing I have learned. When I quit saying yes, and really look at where my life is and what is going on in my life, I can give so much more of me. I love helping everyone. Being there. Being a rock if that is what is needed. But I have learned, If I am not healthy, if I am not in a good emotional place then saying yes is doing more harm than good. I said yes to these amazing projects. And I would cry myself to sleep at night. I was too over-committed. I was not actually helping ANYONE. Now when something is asked of me, I look at my life, my prior commitments, my priorities, and then say yes or no. It really, truly is that simple. It is not easy, at all to change something you have done your entire life. Not easy at all. No has become such a recent addition to my vocabulary that sometimes I completely surprise myself. Friends will ask me to do something for them. I say no and guess what? They are still my friend. They still like me. Family, the same thing. I say no I just can’t do that right now and they say OK, and move on. I never ever dreamed that I could say no to something and it would be OK. It would be more than OK. It would be FANTASTIC!! And an even better side effect of saying no….I get to be more genuine with everyone. I can laugh at things now. I can be honest and say what it truly on my mind. And actually like me more everyday.
I am very thankful that I have people surrounding me that understand this. That have had the patience to hear me, to listen to me, to let me cry. Life is not perfect by any means. I still have those struggles. But understanding that saying no is truly an act of love, so much more so than yes is, has made me a better person. I like myself a lot more and my gut instinct is back. My intuition is becoming clearer and clearer. I still have a bunch of work to do on that front but every single day is a blessing and I know that I am on the clearest path that I could possibly be on.

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