We start our lives being trained vigorously by the ‘Shoulds’ and ‘Have-tos’. Sometimes we spend our lives embedded in this unfulfilling, sacrificial space. The irony is that while all these rules are laid down by society and family, said society and family rarely if ever appreciate your compliance. Your non-compliance, on the other hand, can lead to heated debate and ostracism.
This article is not about not helping out others in a crisis, it is about saying ‘No’ in every day life situations when that’s your inner choice.
When you’ve had your guts full of ‘Shoulds’ and ‘Have-tos’, here’s what you can do:
- Put yourself first. Can you babysit while I further my career, have a ball, enjoy time alone with partner etc. etc. etc.? You can simply reply – Sorry dear, I’m going up that intriguing trail, putting up a stall at the farmer’s market, getting a massage or setting off on a cruise etc. etc. etc.. All the things you would love to do and haven’t because of that heavy sense of duty, obligation, responsibility. Which is not to say that you won’t help out occasionally because you would love to.
- Love yourself. When we don’t really feel like we are enough, worthy of love, deserving of consideration, we let others ride roughshod over us. It’s that underlying need for approval that has us saying ‘yes’ when we’d rather say ‘no’. The process of loving yourself, warts and all, is really the process of becoming empowered. Empowered enough to finally have no need for the approval of another, you sooooo approve of yourself.
- Don’t allow dominance. Easier said than done for some of us who have a really dominant person in our lives who knows what’s best for us, or so they lead us to believe and accept. When you finally wake up, start by making smaller, almost inconsequential decisions for yourself that will give you more and more courage to step out from under that domination. You will, of course, be prepared for the fireworks, but it’s so worth it to think and choose for yourself that you will stand your ground.
- Be authentic. Every time you say ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’ is one more occasion when you are not being true to yourself as well as compounding all the emotions of anger, resentment, frustration and not feeling good enough within you. To be authentic, you first have to discover who you really are beneath all the labels people have stamped you with throughout your life. It starts with – Do I really like doing this? Does it give me peace, joy, satisfaction? Your emotions will lead you to your authentic self.
The art and skill of saying ‘no’ is really becoming the master at saying ‘yes’ to all of yourself and the magnificence within you that is waiting to be discovered and demonstrated. As you grow and expand into all that you can be, you could find yourself saying ‘yes’ more and more often simply because you just love to do more and be more. Yet you do it with a wisdom that does not enable others, you do it to empower yourself and them, who ultimately are versions of you!