Friday, May 13, 2011

SLAP...The Gift of NO

Is this yes to no or no to yes?

Sometimes I can talk a really good game. I pretend like I’m a self-assured adult with a firm grasp on the events in my life and the one in charge of my own time.  Many times I’ve professed that my favorite thing about being an adult is that I CAN say “No”….

But I don’t often actually say it to other adults.

There seems to be some confusion in my brain over saying “No” to my children versus saying it to people who actually TAKE from me.  Because I say the word “No” all freaking day, just not to the people who count where that word is concerned, and I know exactly why I can’t seem to say it. 

Where other adults are concerned I am always on guard to how I appear. If I say no to something there had better be a good reason.  When people ask things of other adults, they don’t usually take just the one word as their answer.  There must be a “Why” along with the “No”.  And for some reason, there isn’t a quick reply or a standing of ground when I attempt the word “No”. 

As a result I say “Yes” to things I really resent and things that drain me of energy and core happiness.  I find my time filled with commitments that I’m doing out of guilt, lack of quick thinking, or worse:  things I'm NOT doing and still feeling badly.  I can’t seem to win. I resent either choice because neither one satisfies ME. It has come to the point where activities I’d actually like to do seem just as draining.

I have no time or inclination for fun stuff, I feel brow beaten by commitments foisted upon me, and I’m feeling exceedingly checked out in my own life of late. My over commitment to things I don’t want to do has left me sapped for anything I DO want to do.

The gift of “No” has been out there the whole time, like a wrapped present I’ve forgotten to open. Along with the word comes a mental certificate that reads:

Good for unlimited use when presented with an activity or commitment that, in doing, would leave holder feeling sapped, resentful, or harried.  May be combined with other certificates including but not limited to: “Thank you for asking”, “Perhaps next time”, or “Right now just isn’t a good time for me”.  These certificates may used in conjunction or alone.

As with all gift certificates the key is remembering you’ve got it…and using it. The nice thing about “No” is that it never expires. I might have to practice but I plan on using it more often, because there is so much out there I WANT to do. There are people I want to have time for and activities in which I’d like to be vigorously engaged. So as of now I’m unwrapping the gift and putting that certificate in my pocket.

I’m quite certain I’m not the only one feeling this way, as recent studies have shown an uptick in people feeling chronically overwhelmed, almost to the point of addiction. 

This is from an msnbc article on stress:

To step off the stress hamster wheel, you need to start making a conscious effort to catch yourself in the act of gloating, "I'm so stressed out." Similarly, you may think that responding to a friend's stress bravado with a play-by-play of your own overwhelming schedule is akin to being supportive. It's not. Stop being an enabler and lose the one-upping in favor of a softer, healthier approach, says [Steve Orma, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in San Francisco]. Try saying something like, "Wow, it sounds like you have a tough week ahead. What will you do to take care of yourself?" Says Orma: "Gently encouraging a harried pal to take some downtime will be more helpful to both of you than swapping stress stories.

So, my friend,  feel free to look around and find your own unopened gift.  Or make as many copies of this one as you’d like. The gift of “No” leaves us so much more open to say “Yes”.  

And if you’re looking for more on this from me…”No, I don’t have more to say. Perhaps next time.”

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