I’m saying “No” more often these days. I’m not sure why, but DAMN it feels good.By uttering just one syllable, I’ve freed up time in my life and space in my mind for ME. What a concept.
Maybe I’ve finally shed my Savior complex and come down off my own martyrdom cross. Resurrecting my own priorities, I’ve finally decided that someone else can do it, whatever it is. What a rush.
There was a time when I accommodated everyone. It wasn’t that long ago, and I’m still digging myself out of several deep holes created in my misguided desire to be helpful (or needed, not sure which). Who’s sorry now? I am.
It’s about two levels of disappointment and realization. First, I’ve realized that by saying “Yes” to something, I am saying “No” to something else. Usually it’s myself.
The second level of disappointment and realization is more powerful, actually. Having someone to whom you have repeatedly said “YES” say “NO” to you in your own time of need brings the power of “NO” into brilliant perspective. It’s actually cathartic. When favors are rarely returned, it’s like ice water in your face as you sleep. It really wakes you up —or at least makes you want to bitch-slap someone. Since bitch-slapping is not always possible or feasible (especially in texts or phone conversations), quietly saying, “I understand” may give pause. Then you may ponder the universal justice that is supposed to be karma.
I’ve found, however, that counting on karma often takes too long. At the next opportunity, my own special brand of kryptonite can be revealed: a sweet and sincere “No.” (Shakes head. Feigns disappointment.)
And boy, it feels wonderful.
Not everything deserves a “No,” of course, but annoyances and disruptions by strangers are at the top of the list. No, I don’t want to sign up for a free vacation right now— I’m here to shop, get root canal, and pick up my pet crocodile. No, you may not have my unlisted telephone number or my mother’s maiden name. No, I don’t want to buy any cookies, candy, ice cream, or pizza to support the Jaycees. (What are the Jaycees, anyway?)
I’m not turning into a hard-hearted Scrooge by saying “No” when it suits me. It's all about boundaries and protecting my priorities, which, for the record are just as important and worthy as anyone else's. I’ll still be helpful when I genuinely wish to be. I’ll still be cordial and civil, for example, to the bratty children whose parents audaciously send them to sell me (and my other neighbors) their magazines and cookie dough, even when they know that I (we) also have kids’ magazines and cookie dough to sell this year. I’ll laugh and say, “No. Oh gosh, I’m so sorry, but I just spent $40 on new magazine subscriptions to help my son win a prize! I’m sure you understand.”
Then I’ll close the door and do something I love.
Like taking time, finally, for me.