How many times in the last 90 days did you have the chance to say “NO” and you wimped out? How many things did you insert yourself into went against your true interest level on it? You probably beat yourself up, have makeover conversations in your car as if you did it, but the fact is you didn’t say no.
The reason you didn’t say NO isn’t because you’re NOT confrontational. Asserting yourself isn’t something that comes natural to anyone. I haven’t met anyone who loves saying NO. Not one of 380 coaching clients ever told me how delighted they were to turn someone down. We all have the same moving parts–a heart and a mind. We have fear, judgment, and all the same enemy voices we have to face. Certainly it helps lower some anxiety when you package the “NO” better, but the truth is it’s still NO, lipstick on the pig or not.
The problem actually worsens with the solution. When you tell yourself to step up and say no more often, it implies that you’re a bad person, incapable of saying it, so you need to change into your cape in the phone booth and be a hero to your weak poor little self who can’t. To me, that’s a harmful form of self-incrimination and a source of weakening you more and more as you forget to meet your ideal self who must be “tougher and stronger.” I have a different approach for you, one that will work and sustain change and help you become more effective as yourself.
First, let’s not look at this “NO” failure as a problem to fix. Let’s turn toward current reality with a fresh eye. You are afraid to say it. You should be because NO acquires rejection and disagreement. Do you know a human being who doesn’t care about getting attention and approval? You were made with that in your wiring. We are needy as a species. We need love and attention and when we don’t get it, we think there’s something defective in us. It’s as if the nature of us drafts us into the army of the unworthy ones. Welcome to the club!
So let go of your judgment of self around saying NO. Get that you don’t like it, and that your reluctance to say it is real. It’s true. It is dangerous because it risks isolation. This way you’re not at issue with the undeniable truth of you. And you’re not going to reprogram or affirm to yourself suddenly that saying NO is your friend, which is a lie.
Now, instead of looking at what’s missing in you, let’s shift gears. What matters most to you? Yep, what do you want to create in your life? What qualities, conditions, people, activities, state of being, places matter to you? Independent of what you think of yourself or your sense of power, what do you really care alot about having in your life?
Are you getting the clue? The reason you don’t say NO is because you don’t organize your life around what does matter to you. You organize your life around something more important than that? Can you breath in what I just said? That’s very matter of fact, but true isn’t it? If you’re living someone else’s goals there’s a reason for it. And saying NO less and less is a symptom of this reason. Maybe you hold the concept in front of your eyes that life’s circumstances have the power in your life. You might see that you operate according to your reactions and responses to life. After all, saying NO is a response to life isn’t it.
Saying NO isn’t a response to life, it is born out of a choice to do what matters most, and most of all–be true to yourself. This doesn’t make someone suddenly accept your decisions. In fact, you’ll have many people disagree with you all your life because they have different perceptions, ones you can’t govern your life around. But if I know you, you’re aware that you’re not breathing this air right now in life on others’ terms. You can choose to live on your own terms. This doesn’t imply that you must justify yourself into this, or be apologetic. Or be selfish. It has nothing to do with your identity and what you deserve. The conditions you care about creating are wanted for their own sake. It’s not linked to who you are or what you’re entitled to or not. Deserving and desiring aren’t linked, not unless you say they are.
So…the next time you sense a “NO” is important to say, stop, pause. Give yourself more time to respond.. Tell the person you make a policy with yourself of making decisions like these within 24 hours. Or say you’ll check with your secretary, friend, or husband and get back with the person. Now you’ve given your bigger self—the one whose on the side of you becoming a predominant creative force in your life a chance to shine through. You can now organize yourself from there—really give you the inner leadership you need. You must choose–what matters MOST to me? Being comfortable? Or creating what I want and organizing my life content around that?
Are you neglecting the needs of others? Not if you’re doing what matters to you, not at all. Many of those needs of others may matter more to you and you’ll choose to support them. Again, the source from which you consider your “NO’s” is not from telling yourself how inadequate you are out of someone walking on you, you wimping out and blaming them. You’re not coming from there now this time. Now it’s coming true to yourself as to what matters most. This moves you from entropy and conflict inside to peace, groundedness and stability. A hierarchy of importance generates simplicity.
Would you ever expect someone to participate in what you ask without a full heart? Would you ever get the full range of them if they committed halfway, out of guilt or wimping out? You would only want to know that what they do with you is in full respect of what does matter to them. It requires an allowance of honesty from the heart without judgment or control. Let others say “NO” to you. But enter their world giving them permission to be free to choose. When you do this, you’re operating out of the compassion for your smaller voice, that petty self who can’t do what matters most for you, but compromises.
As you let others have what they want, you’ll find yourself owning up to yourself on your terms. Let them be free, and you’ll find yourself freer than before. Sit down right now and take a fearless inventory of your heart’s intentions. What matters to you in your life right now? Toward what do you want to devote your life toward? If you could leave a footprint on this life, as you’re taking your last breath, what would it be? What possible future could matter the most to you? And who are you trying to control or force against what really matters to them? Let go.
When you inhabit what matters to you with a full heart, other people notice it. You’re more present, alert, useful, and creative. When you’re doing what doesn’t matter because you said YES when you meant NO, no one gains.
This contemplation isn’t something you discover, it’s content you consider. Don’t wait for the big aha to come in, consider what does matter to you right now and operate from it as the centerpiece of your way forward. My guess is that if you do this, you will become a stronger individual to represent that voice from what you care about. It isn’t the goal to become a stronger person, but the byproduct of creating what matters. Create first, you change as a result. Only change in yourself what is relevant to creating what matters.