The Art of Saying “No”…Does It Really Exist?

I’m still amazed at the frenetic pace of my life sometimes.  I wonder does everyone else feel the same way about how quickly and how many things we go through on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?  Is it really within our power to simply our lives by saying “no” to people and circumstances?

FAMILY

I begin with this subtitle because it is what many of us are most familiar with.  Our parents. Our siblings. Our cousins. Our aunts and uncles. Family consists of many different titles but the urgency is usually the same.  I really can’t say “no” to family but I can try to set boundaries and perhaps corral requests as a cattle farmer herds his cows.  This is never an easy task, however, and I caution that some forethought should be involved before speaking.  My standard habit is to ingest the request(s) and let it filter through my mind while managing small talk in between.  If it’s a low-key item or two, I can easily respond in the positive.  If it’s more complicated, I usually stall an answer and say I’ll get back to them on that or some other clever response.  In my heart I would never really want to be able to say no to beloved family since I do love them and truly desire to help them through the bumps of this physical life we lead.

FRIENDS

Being in my thirties now I’m definitely learning some hard lessons in the friends department as well as enjoying the immense blessings.  I’ve read many a magazine article that breaks down all the “types” of friends one can have and how to mitigate conflicts that may arise.  Many times I try to pre-empt my colleagues by offering to be available whether by verbal communication or by spirit in prayer because I do want them to know that I’m not just a fair-weather type of friend. Yet life has a way of predetermining which friends can weather my personal storms of life and I need to just let go and know it’s okay to say “no” inside when I wonder if I should reach out one more time.  Also, if a friend is a constant drain on energy sources then it may be time to set some distance to help recharge and reassess the relationship.  Again, never easy.

WORK

Our jobs seem to have spilled over into our personal lives since the advent of cell phones, internet communication and long, unnecessary hours.  Add to that the scarce holiday, vacation and personal days and we have a society filled with stressed singles, marrieds and parents that try to balance their lives with the constant demand of “the man”.  I’m not a sage in this department as my past decade of life included working in the halls of the U.S. Congress, Treasury Department and countless corporate firms where money and hours spent at your job was your merit.  I still can taste the bitterness in my mouth of biting my tongue when the days would grind on endlessly and the boss was a nightmare and I in turn reflected nightmarish tendencies.  At the same time, I remember the day I submitted my resignation when I became pregnant with my son.  I had been looking forward to it for weeks, I knew it was the right choice for me at the time.  Weighing all the pros and cons, I decided it was time to say “no” and consider other options in the aftermath.  I have never regretted the decision.  This is not shared with you to encourage quitting your job in a tough economy such as ours, however, I hope it can inspire you to really examine what is important to you, your family and what type of career would truly complement your zest for life.

BOOKS/SELF-HELP

The art of saying “no” is the soapbox for many writers, psychologists and others.  You can certainly find a book that suits your needs or a CD set that talks about how to get a better grip on your hectic life and hopefully help you lessen the load.

My personal experience is that I seem to move things off my plate just in time to welcome new things.  Perhaps the goal should be to find a “balanced diet” on this life plate that sustains itself through the years.  As my family and close friends know, my spirit always relies on the strength of our Lord as God has an inextinguishable amount of energy sourced by the Universe and Creation itself.  But that is my way of living, you can only know your way yourself.

So my conclusion is that saying “no” is the wrong focus, rather how can we say “yes” and follow through?

R.V.S.B.

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