The Power of the Occassional “No”

How much is living a pleasant life our own responsibility? When things don’t go so well – and there seems to be a swarm of things not going so well – do we blame all the outside influences for this, not realizing how we may be inviting these things in?

When things aren’t going great or going our way, we tend to feel rather crappy about life. That’s a fairly natural reaction to un-pleasantries. But what we might have missed, however, is the fact that we were already feeling off about something; we just weren’t aware enough or didn’t stop long enough to examine why.

Say someone I work with is causing me a lot of angst, and yet I keep on working with them, keep on interacting the way I always do. Naturally, if my interaction with them remains the same, and their responses remain the same, then I’m going to keep getting the same results, i.e. me ultimately feeling anxious or stressed.

But what this initial bad feeling is telling me is that I am part of the equation. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m part of the problem, but it does mean that I have some control over the situation. If I keep putting up with some difficult person who brings unnecessary stress to my life, then in allowing it and them to remain in my life, I’m failing to take responsibility for my own peace of mind.

Sure, there are times when we can’t avoid conflict and have to work through it. Then that’s what we have to do – face it, do our best to work through it and not take it so personally. But if the situation (or person) refuses to change and we must endure a significant amount of stress because of it, how much worth does it actually hold? That’s a personal decision we must each make when faced with similar situations.

There are, however, plenty of ongoing interactions in our lives that we have significant control over, and we can basically decide to just let them go. For when we don’t – say we keep working with this client just for the money or out of habit while our sanity is cracking under the pressure – then we are the ones responsible for letting the misery in. Often, we just need to really see the situation for what it is, stand back and evaluate it with a clear head, and then make the most harmonious decision possible. Stop, check for acute or chonic stress, re-frame big picture, draw boundaries with favorite Crayolas this time.

A while back we wrote a blog entry about just saying “Yes” to life. It’s a wonderful concept we still stand by. But when something isn’t feeling right in our lives, this means the balance is off. Maybe a little bit of “No” in the right places can cure it. We all have a right to say no to things that do not serve us well. If you do it without dishonor for them and out of respect for yourself, saying no to an icky-feeling recurring situation… Well, goodness… it’s almost as if you were on the brink of creating a mighty fine life for yourself, one pretty darn-conscious decision at a time.