Every time I come to write a post, I am wishy washy about starting the timer. It's like ripping a bandaid off - maybe even worse. You just have to press start, and let the words come naturally.
This week's topic has been rolling around in my head this week. It almost feels like there are stones drifting about - because it can be a heavy topic. I don't want to write with heavy hands or heart, and so, I have been playing with how to make it a little lighter - and less the 1980's anti-drug commercial - see below.
Saying NO - is a bold form of expressing your YES. Let's play with some scenarios.
In 1999 my boyfriend of a couple of years broke up with me. Hi Jesse! When he came back, cause he always did, something powerful inside of me could only utter one word to him. "No." I wasn't saying no to Jesse. I loved him with all of my heart and continued to do so for many years after. No, my one powerful word was not about Jesse at all. I was saying yes to the the adventurous soul inside my body, the one that would board a 747 just three months later and take a trip to Asia that would change the course of my life, and many others - I hope.
When someone says no to you and you feel the sting (and heart wrenching ache) of rejection, consider for a moment, that's it's really not about you at all.
Another prominent no that comes to mind, was one that I uttered through trembling lips in 2003. I allowed a stranger to share a cab with me late at night. One thing led to another, and I ended up with a knife at my neck, locked in a garage. My stranger friend asked me to take my clothes off. I remembered some advice my brother Dave gave me: If anyone ever steals you (real life people) and they have a gun, you run. You never get in a car with someone who has a gun. We waltzed around the garage for what seemed like an eternity, and my "no" was fierce and firm. What was my yes? My one word response was actually saying, "Yes I am strong. Yes I am alive. Yes, he will let me go."
He did, albeit with a kick out the door.
There NO's that redirect you, NO's that build you up, and there are NO's that pivot you from one course of action and into a whole new trajectory.
In 2011 I was dead set of moving to Kenya. I signed up for the Bangkok job fair to be held, January of 2012, planned a three month trip to south-east asia and penciled in the details of my life (my travel map was even in the shape of a heart). But on Nov. 27 of 2011, I met Ricky. The curiosity and instinct superseded my previous ideas and when it was time to cash in on all of my planning, I simply said, "NO." I sold and gave away most of everything I owned, paid a change fee for my ticket and three weeks later, was jet-set for Mexico City.
My NO was a YES, to a life that has been richer than any I could have imagined.
I always tell people, If you asked me seven years ago to list five cities I would never move to, Mexico City would be one of them. Goes to show - it's not where you are - it's what you are. Saying NO is not a closed door. You don't have to be a people pleaser or complacent. You don't have to say NO when NO feels wrong. And when you start to get clear about what your YES is, saying NO isn't just important - it's necessary.
Like it is - According to Vail
As a self-proclaimed people pleaser, saying no has been a challenge for me for most of my adult life. I have been asked a few times to think back about why I say yes when I want to say no and when it all began. I know I wasn’t always this way. In fact, my mother calls me her strong-willed child. When I didn’t want to eat my grilled cheese because it was cut the wrong way, I said no. When I didn’t want to go to the top of the Hancock Tower in Chicago, I let my opinion be known, loud and clear. It is a bit of a mystery when that power to say no began to get clouded with wanting to be easy-going and pleasing others.
Now, I think it is probably a positive thing that I no longer have tantrums when something does not go my way, and I think there is something to be said about being able to compromise when necessary. However, I am constantly trying to build my “no muscle” or at least be conscious about when to use yes and when to use no. When I look back there are several instances where I wish I had said no:
The moments when my boss or bosses asked me to take on more than I could handle or to do something that did not align with my morals
When a certain “shall remain nameless” boyfriend asked me not to break up with him
Any moment that someone ordered a round of shots at the bar… this led to many other choices that needed a no
To “friendships” where the person wasn’t encouraging me to grow but rather dragging me down
With all this talk about no, I would be remiss not to mention that I do believe that being open and saying yes to new opportunities and adventures is something that I believe is important. If I were a total no person, I probably would have missed out on many of the life-shaping experiences in my life. If I wielded no for every instance where something feels uncomfortable I wouldn’t have:
Lived in Colorado
Gone back to school to become a teacher
Moved to Mexico
Continued with fertility treatments even when I felt like I was exhausted
Though they are tiny, little words, yes and no can really be powerful. Use your super-powers wisely!