It feels to me like I have been saying ‘yes’ for most of a lifetime. Lately, it has been time to seriously learn the art of saying ‘no’. I started thinking about this in a very personal way, not an abstract idea, when I heard about the person who had said ‘yes’ to everything for one year. I kept going back to the very idea of that and what it could mean for a person. Apparently it was a big adventure for them. I was horrified. To me, the notion that this is a metaphor for saying ‘yes’ to Life was fraught with exhausting possibilities and complications. And heaven knows, I’m an optimist!
I have learned that you can say ‘no’ with a smile and a ‘thank you’ and no one will mind. I have learned that even God (Life) says ‘no’ sometimes. And perhaps most importantly, I have learned that saying ‘no’ to something that will exhaust me or cause more hardship than it will joy, can be very, very healing. It’s true that we don’t always know what lies in store for us when we say ‘yes’ to something, and often the rewards are very worthwhile, so I don’t advocate saying ‘no’ all the time. But when that little voice inside me says ‘I’ve had enough’… I am trying to listen.
In saying ‘no’ we risk disappointing those who love us, but guess what? We will, whether or not we want to. None of us is perfect and sooner or later we are going to say the wrong thing, not meet a deadline or not interpret our loved one’s needs the way they want us to. Goodness knows I’m a work in progress, and as recently as yesterday heard an author/poet admitting he is seldom ‘happy’ but most often ‘content’. It really hit a chord in me and I realised that is an important part of the subtle aspect of saying ‘no’. I will not try so hard to be ‘happy’ and keep everyone else happy. I will allow contentment to come to the surface, and recognise, and enjoy, when enough is more than enough. Saying ‘no’ once in a while is saying ‘yes’ to yourself. It says that you love and respect yourself enough to honour what the self truly wants… peace and time to enjoy the moment.