What happens when we say No.
Permission to say no and find your margins.
"So many of us feel stretched thin by too many commitments, and we forget that with every yes we are also saying no to having enough energy for something else that might be important to us."
-Christine Valters Paintner
This past week in our family, we made several decisions not to. The decisions were tiny. They weren't big, important nos. They were small nos. But there is a funny thing about small nos. It seems they ripple; our nos produced other nos.
The nos are not the story here. They were small. They were nos that were unexpected because sometimes we forget that no is always an option. In every case, I think we had forgotten that every opportunity, every invitation, everything doesn't have to be yes, and probably shouldn't be yes.
What caught my attention about this past week of no, was how hard it was to say no, but when we got to no, what freedom we felt, and how our nos rippled and permitted others to say no.
There is lots of pressure to say yes. For every opportunity or invitation that presents itself, someone has said yes. There is in every invitation already "yes energy" present.
It's so easy to forget that there is a no for every yes. I noticed this week how easy it was to focus on yes: the potential outcomes, the relational importance, the fun. But when we paused, pulled back, and reflected, we realized there were some critical nos that our yes would mean. When we paused and reflected, we realized that this one, yes, would mean a whole lot of nos to times, resources, and margins that would ripple throughout our lives in subtle ways, but there would be an impact.
After a few days of living with a particular no, I asked my 11-year-old daughter her thoughts. She said, "I thought it would be hard, but it's really been easy." As we talked about it a bit more, what we realized was the "no" that she said gave her margins and boundaries that have brought her unexpected peace and ease.
None of this is revolutionary stuff. None of this is an ah-ha. But here's what I want to say: it's okay to say no. I was reminded this week that I need to say no more often than I do! Most nos are small, tiny even. So it feels like they aren't worth saying. But I saw this week that for every brave no I said (and every no is brave!) I empowered other people to say no. When we say we don't want to spend our money, time, or energy in that way, be it big or small, it reminds others they get a choice. This week, the most challenging parts of our family's nos were the people I thought would be impacted. In every case, the affected people said, "thank you,(thank you, thank you) for saying no."
A blessing for the right yes.
As your days and weeks unfold, filled with opportunities, requests, and desires may you pause and remind yourself what matters to you. May you have the every-day-courage it takes to say yes to peace, pause, and margins that enable and empower you to do the things that matter most to your heart and soul. May you say yes to the right things and bid peace to the things that are not yours to do. May your small nos ripple with grace and power and be received in ways that bless others.
There is a no, and for every yes, there is a yes for every no.
What do you need to be saying "Yes" to in your life?
Do you need to say yes to more space or downtime? Say YES to that and find where you can say no to achieve that.
Do you need to be more present in your life? Say YES to presence, see what nos you can say that get in your way of being present in your life.
I LOVED this podcast this week. It took me days to get through it. I would listen to a small section on my daily walk and another section the next day. There is so much wisdom and grace in her words. I know you'll find something that resonates in your heart and soul.
A few books I always keep close by:
To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue (This is a book of blessings. He had a way with words that is unparalleled. When I need inspiration or soothing, this book always has something.)
Seasons of Your Heart by Macrina Wiederkehr. (Macrina is one of my favorite writers, this book is a book of poems and reflections. Her poems are so every day sacred.)
The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. (This is a book of short daily readings. There is always so much wisdom in his brief reflections. I often use lines from his writing as inspiration for haiku.)
This week's collection of words to ponder are quotes I found about saying no. May they bless you and empower you to say no.
Is there one of these quotes that resonate with you? Jot it down on a sticky note and keep it close.
“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself."
"Learn to say no; it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin."
“...there are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don't really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is a major milestone in the simplification process."
― Elaine St. James
"What's helped with saying no to others is asking myself first if I'm saying yes out of guilt or fear. If so, then it's a polite no."
― Neil Strauss
"Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn't have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions."
― Stephanie Lahart
"No is a complete sentence and so often we forget that.
When we don't want to do something we can simply smile and say no.
We don't have to explain ourselves, we can just say "No."
Early on my journey I found developing the ability to say no expanded my ability to say yes and really mean it.
My early attempts at saying no were often far from graceful but with practice even my no came from a place of love.
Love yourself enough to be able to say yes or no."
― Susan Gregg
"We must say "no" to what, in our heart, we don't want. We must say "no" to doing things out of obligation, thereby cheating those important to us of the purest expression of our love. We must say "no" to treating ourselves, our health, our needs as not as important as someone else's. We must say "no."
― Suzette R. Hinton
"If something is not a "hell, YEAH!", then it's a "no!"
― James Altucher