I recently wrote an article, ”Saying “Yes” into Overwhelm,” because I and many other people I’ve met have a patterned tendency to take things on. It is an understandable tendency for those who want to be of help, service or make a positive difference. The point of the article was not to not say “yes,” but to consider first if one can fit this one more thing into an already busy life or if it will tip the balance into overwhelm.
Having said all that, let’s explore the flip side of the coin. Even though I’m one of those people who has a patterned tendency to say “yes,” there are areas of my life where I might have a tendency to have a knee-jerk “no” at the ready.
Can you think of areas of life where that might be the case for you? Maybe it’s something that you should not agree to, because it would be a healthy choice to say, “no.” But, there may also be areas or instances, as have been in my life, where to say “no” would limit positive life experience or opportunities. Usually these areas have to do with a fear of some kind.
While I enjoy speaking in front of large audiences (I had to get over that fear many years ago, but that’s another story), I’m somewhat of an introvert. During my personal time (preferring my “cave” to large social situations), that knee-jerk “no” might be in regard to a party or large social gathering. Saying “no” may limit my opportunity just to be out in the world connecting with others in a positive way. Being in this world is about relationships of all kinds, and communication is the key to all those many types of relationships. I was limiting myself. I was keeping myself in a bit of a box during my non-working time.
Perhaps you have a fear of over-committing your time, and your knee-jerk “no” might be there for just about any request. Again, it may limit positive opportunities and experiences and back you into a box.
The bottom line in the knee-jerk “no” response is usually fear-based, and fears limit us in our lives. When considering a response, before automatically falling into the patterned tendency to say “no,” here are a few things you can ask yourself or do that may help:
- Is automatically tending to say “no” a pattern for me in situations like this? Is there a fear that might be preventing me from saying, “yes?”
- If I say “yes,” what will it involve (time, energy, expertise)? Asking this question of the person or group that is making the request is important to make the decision in awareness.
- What are the benefits of saying, “yes?”
- Look at the various areas of life to see if you can fit it in.
- Sleep on it (unless it’s an urgent situation) before giving your answer.
- If still uncertain, talk with a trusted partner or friend who is supportive in your personal growth.
The important thing is to know yourself (and be aware of areas where there might be a fear) and make decisions in conscious awareness. Of course, this is a process, and with each “yes,” step-by-step, you can overcome a fear and open up doorways for positive opportunities, growth, confidence and, even, miracles.
Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information: www.maryclaireoneal.com
© Copyright, Mary Claire O’Neal
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One thought on “Creating Boxes in Life by Saying “No””
Great article! It gave me a “know me better” break, which is always important. Bless you for the good work you’re doing in this world. You’re truly amazing! Love, Lea