How Are You Responding to Life?
Let me ask you: Do you consider the impact of what you say yes and no to? I suspect not – fully.
Unfortunately, many of us too easily fall prey to a martyr-like belief in a never-ending productivity curve. As if we could forever keep saying yes to commitments, people and opportunities without eventual burnout.
On top of it, we’re affronted when we feel victimized! We shouldn’t be shocked. For one, we didn’t take on all these obligations while “awake”. We did it while “asleep”. The traps we fell into were caused by not knowing we could consciously choose where to devote our precious energies. Now, we have new information to make informed choices.
Instead, for every yes (new possibility) you take up, there needs to an equal and balancing set of no’s. For instance, assume you’ve declared work-life balance a critical part of your well-being. If you say yes to working overtime every night, you’re saying no to rest. Reversed, if you say no to ‘needing’ to work until midnight to retain customers (an edict once commanded by an employer), you’re saying yes to standing up for yourself.
Talking About Tolerations
In the coaching world I travel, we regularly speak of tolerations. Tolerations are energy drains; the things you put up with but don’t really want. The (client) goal is always to increase what enhances energy and to reduce or eliminate altogether those factors which deplete it. The latter may include environmental annoyances (messy house, broken dishwasher, car problems), health issues (tiredness, low immune system), financial woes (not making enough money, too much debt), relationship vampires (as well as broken relationships) – and more.
By engaging in regular deliberate reflection through coaching or other means, you’ll come to see where you operate on “auto-pilot”. You’ll then be better able to ask yourself with focused awareness: “Do I really want to say yes to that?” (Do you also see why mindfulness is a vital daily practice? Aha!)
The Top Ten List
Be aware. I didn’t say learning to say no is easy. As soon as you even think of it, doesn’t all that stored negative self-talk jump out of the woodwork? “Who do you think you are?” “You can’t be rude.” “How dare you be so selfish?” Can’t you just hear all the internal nattering now?
Yet, learning to say no can be such a valuable life skill. You elect to say no to people and situations that suck the life force from you (tolerations). You opt for a resounding “Yes!” to what brings you zest. To help you strengthen your yes/no muscles, I hope these provoking fill-in-the-blanks will prompt clear new decisions. No more living by others’ “should’s”!
- I need to say no to __________________________________________________.
- I want to say yes to _________________________________________________.
- I want less of ______________________________________________in my life.
- I want more of ___________________________________________in my world.
- I need to rebalance in the area of ______________________________________.
- I intend to revisit my commitment concerning ____________________________.
- I consciously choose to devote my energy to _____________________________.
- I now must alter or release the attitude/belief/behaviour/habit of _________________________________________________________________.
- I will immediately stop ______________________________________________.
- I aim to start ______________________________________________________.
It should come as no surprise that this first Action Exercise invites you to practice saying “no” five times a day for a week. Start with easy commitments. Work up to those requiring more effort. Observe when you feel compelled to see through a particular yes – even though it creates stress. What’s that all about?
Another inquiry would be to generate your own Yes/No list for all parts of your life. If you want to add extra oomph, read it aloud! Very powerful…
As Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling asserts: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Can you make the leap? I wish it for you. You’ll find putting yourself “at choice” an uplifting way to come alive.