The first word we are taught as children, is the meaning of the word, ‘no’. It’s for our own good. Our parents are protecting us, teaching us how to be safe as we grow up.
Why is it, then, that as adults we find the word ‘no’ one of the hardest to utter?
It was only in my 30s that I started learning about ‘boundaries’ – what it meant and why they were necessary. With some people, particularly family, there just weren’t any boundaries and it was a free-for-all rampage. No wonder I felt trodden and trampled so much of the time. I learned to write my own rules of what was appropriate and acceptable, and what wasn’t. I took it into my own hands to protect myself from being taken advantage of.
It was a treacherous process, but an essential one. I’ve come a long way since.
Then it was work. For years I did everything to please my employers and my clients. Nothing was too much to ask. I’d work through the night on their behalf. More than once, I got sick. Lack of sleep made my resistance low, and although I triumphed in completing the work to make everyone happy, I’d suffer physically for it. Then I’d beat myself up for having let other people’s stuff become more important than my own health.
Eventually I managed to change the rules with work. But in certain circumstances, such as: if it appeared that I would be the ‘best person for the job’, or it would appear that no one else was able, or willing to cope with the responsibility, I’d take it on. There was then a sense of purpose or mission. However, once again, a terrible resentment would follow. I’d feel entrapped into doing something I didn’t actually want to do, but “I just couldn’t say no”.
Then there have been people trying to get my attention by sending me junk mail. There have been people coming to the door to sell stuff. I have given these people my time and thoughtfulness. I worry for their feelings of rejection, or I feel I must validate them as human beings by responding to them in some way.
And while this may appear kind and compassionate on the outside, what is it doing to me internally?
It is putting their needs before mine. If they have disrupted me, if they intrude on my space, if they cause me discomfort or hassles, and in the end I resent them, silently curse them… am I doing anyone any good?
Today, I realised:
I can say no.
I don’t need to open every piece of junk mail that comes through my door. I am not obligated to send money to that charity. I don’t owe it to companies to test their ‘free’ unsolicited samples. I don’t have to read the magazines that come with subscriber service if I’m not interested in them. My time, is MY time, and I choose how to spend it. No one else.
I don’t need to click on every piece of spam email to check ‘what if it’s something important’ only to be disgusted by yet another porn source insisting I signed up for their membership! I can just delete any email that does not look genuine.
I don’t need to answer the door just because someone has knocked. I don’t have to jump out of the bathtub to answer the phone. If I am busy, if I am wanting peace and quiet, I have every right to remain undisturbed.
The world will keep running without my agreeing to participate in something I’d rather not be a part of.
Rather than me scowling at some unsuspecting person on the other side of the door or at the other end of a phone line, it is my perfect right to say: No, I’m not dealing with this right now, if ever.
I can say no to anyone and anything that does not feel right or do me good. I do not need to give an excuse or an explanation. ‘No’ is enough.
Why would I say ‘yes’ in such situations, anyway?
And yet I have, many, many a time, made myself miserable for hours, days, even years, by agreeing to things that did not feel good to me. By being afraid to say No.
It is a fear of saying No that stops us from saying it.
We are afraid of the consequences. We’re afraid someone won’t love us anymore. What about loving ourselves enough to say No when we really mean No?
Honour yourself by saying No when you need to protect yourself in any way. Bless yourself by saying No when you wish to remain pure and sacred. Respect yourself by saying No to anyone who is trying to take advantage of you.
There is a reason why our parents taught us that first word, No.
It is the most valuable word you can use to preserve and protect your True Self. It also a way of staying congruent with your Integrity.