I immediately burst into song and danced back to the dinner table singing at the top of my voice, "It feels so good to say NO and not feel guilty!" My family starred at me and just continued eating. But I kept singing my song again, and explained, "I finally get it. People want someone to help them out of their problems, and if I say no, they'll just find someone else to help them. They're not paying me a compliment because I'm the only one and the best one. I've been so prideful all these years, but realize the truth of the matter now."
And that's how I learned to say NO.
It's always been hard for me to stick up for myself. I was a walk-all-over-her sort of person for many many years. I was taken advantage of because I was nice and didn't want to disappoint people or not help them. I considered myself a wimp. But gradually I started noticing and admiring people who stood up for themselves, who set boundaries and limits and knew what they could do and were willing to do. I wanted to be one of those kind of people. Strong in their beliefs and actions. Self-assured and self-confident. And that meant saying NO when it was needed.
Recently I read an article that said when you say NO to something, then really you are saying YES to something else. And when you say YES to something, you are naturally saying NO to other things. So years ago when I was substituting and my children were still in school, if I said Yes to teaching, then some days that would mean I would be saying no to getting the laundry and shopping done and preparing a peaceful dinner. Sometimes it was good to say yes, but other weeks I should have said no more often.
What are some other NO/YES outcomes?
NO to video/computer time - YES to creative, imaginative children
NO to snacking, candy - YES to healthy lifestyle (ouch, that one always gets me!)
NO to lax, inconsistent bedtime routine - YES to more peaceful evenings
NO to excessive fast food eating - YES to more money and healthier eating
NO to hours on blog/instagram/pinterest/facebook reading - YES to non-comparing yourself with others and feeling happier with your life
NO to judging others - YES to accepting others with different ideas
......and the list can go on and on.
One other idea on how to say NO that I wished I would have known years ago when I was a wishy washy wimp and that is, stall for a moment when someone asks you to do something that you don't want to or think it best not to do. Say very nicely, "Let me check my calendar." Then check that calendar and if you want to say NO, you sweetly say, "Oh I'm sorry, I have something scheduled for then." They don't have to know that you don't have something officially written down. Because remember the NO/YES consequences. If you say no to them, you're saying yes to your children for being able to meet their needs that morning or yes to reading a book because you really need some downtime. It sounds so more convincing to say, "Oh, I'm not available" than "Oh, I'm reading a good book and will lose it if I don't take some time for myself."
It sounds like I'm suggesting you say NO all the time. I'm not. I wrote this blog post for me, basically, because I need to say NO to myself more often than to other people. I love to teach and love to babysit my grandchildren and love to do this and love to do that. And I want to do it all. But I have to remind myself that when I say, "YES, I think I'll teach more ukulele or music classes", I'm really saying, "NO, I won't have time to babysit my grandchildren when I'm needed."
Judge wisely when you say NO or YES and remember there will always be a YES or NO answering consequence.
Thanks for reading,