The Power of ‘no’

It is becoming clear to me that part of our ‘stepping up’ and ‘showing up’ in conscious and authentic ways includes a) recognising our needs and b) stating what they are. Easier said than done. But not impossible.

I have had so many conversations over the years with people who find it hard (and I include myself in this) to say ‘no’. It is not our fault that this is something that we find hard. It is not our fault that the ‘yes’ comes so much easier than the ‘no’.

I am referring here to those familiar situations where someone asks something of us and, although we are already stretched, or tired, or simply don’t feel connected with the thing they are asking support for, we generally end up saying ‘yes’. Why? Because our conditioning has taught us that this is the ‘right’ thing to do. On a deeper level, and on a level that concerns our individual as well as our collective psyche, we want to be loved. If we say ‘no’ our conditioned and, dare I suggest, our wounded selves, fear that we might be rejected, not loved, or worse still, disliked and judged for being selfish.

So, this is no easy task is it? It is not easy to find the courage to speak this truth for we think we are risking our social status, and our deep and very human need to be loved.

What if we began to start to talk about this more and with more people so that we had the possibility of looking at this differently? What if just by talking about it (and blogging about it) we began to slowly and tentatively build enough trust to try it out with each other? There’s a small chance the collective psyche around this issue might shift.

Can you imagine a culture where when someone says ‘no’ to us as a response to a request, we accept this in the knowledge that this person is taking care of his or her needs and in so doing are exemplifying something that might look like, “I am saying no to you and saying yes to myself because I know that self care is one of the most radical gifts I can offer myself, the rest of humanity and the planet. By being with myself in this way I am honouring myself and I am not in any way dishonouring you. I love you and I need to take care of myself right now. It is not my responsibility how you feel about my choice.”

I see it as being lovingly boundaried and a deeper step towards ourselves and a more authentic way of living with each other.

It is important to say that I wish to be super discerning with myself and not simply go for the ‘no’ because I can’t be bothered or because it is becoming a familiar and socially acceptable response – like this radical new way of being with each other gives me a get-out-clause.

I want the ‘no’ to come from a place that is really connected to myself and not from a place of disassociation or numbing out to life. Some situations can be tough and, whilst I may be feeling tired or not having a huge amount of time available, it may still be within my power and energy to give something to the situation. I still have a wish to show up in ways that make a difference or that mean I am being of help. And my body and nervous system have limits. It would be convenient if they didn’t, but they do. So I listen and I work within my limits.

Here’s the thing ~ it is our responsibility to do the inner work around our potential feeling of rejection or being judged. It is not the responsibility of the person who responds in this way to our request.

It is also our responsibility to discern whether or not it is the moment to say ‘yes’ or to say ‘no’. Only we can know this for ourselves. This is not by any means anyone elses responsibility.

It comes down to our listening and our self awareness. It also comes down to the courage to take the risk of not being liked, of being judged, or rejected. Tough, yet crucial to our evolution as a species.

It is also my experience that when trying out something new it can come out a little clonkily, not so skillfully or graciously. So, I invite you to be patient and compassionate with yourself and with each other if you begin trying this out, or even as you continue to take this radical risk.

I leave this with you and I wish you well with your explorations of your loving ‘no’.