Dear Sweet Listeners,
I remember my first coach, Isabel Parlett of Sound Bite Shaman, taught me that it's just as important which clients or experiences I say “no” to as those to whom I say “yes.” A client who is not a true match for me can take up 3 –5 times more time than a client who makes me feel like dancing when they phone in. If it's not the right match, an internal struggle ensues when I work with them. Letting them go in an honorable way, makes space in me and in my practice. The client is free to find their own best match.
In my personal life, saying “no” has been more of a challenge. I'm going to offer a few examples.
Back in the early 80's, I was in a yoga class and we were doing hand stands.I didn't think I had the forearm strength to hold the posture so I asked the teacher for an easier version. The teacher insisted “it's just a fear block, just resistance, do the posture, and you'll find you do have the strength.” We went back and forth a few times. I listened to her rather than to me and fell out of the pose. I spent the next 6 months spending time at the chiropractor rather than in yoga class. I'll bet you have had some similar experiences. Today when I go to a yoga class, I ensure I am working with an instructor who knows my physical limitations and is open to partnering with me within the class about what I see is best for me.
I have a pattern, and this pattern may sound familiar to you as well, where I can easily give my power to a teacher or authority figure whom I see as “above” me. I said “yes” so many times, so many times to these authority figures and each of those “yes” answers has cost me. In my heart, I have come to know that the hierarchy of above and below or better than, less than is not true. We are equal. I also believe that No is part of our deepest integrity and protects us from exploitation. No can be hard to receive but setting limits sets us free.
You can see here, I am not a master at saying “no,” though I am paying attention to developing the practice. Our primordial assertion of self against others begins when we are two years old. “No, No, No, I will not get in the car seat, leave the park or eat the veggies.” For the rest of our lives, we are challenged to find the clearest way to draw that line in the sand.
In April this year, I said “no” to my husband about joining him on our every other year trip to England to visit his family. It was frightening to take this stand yet I KNEW saying “no” would be the healthier choice on every level. It
would have been hard on my body and my spirit.
As a result of that courageous “no”, I feel closer to his family than ever before. We skyped and have been more in touch since then. I found out they mean more to me than I knew. It was only by not going, I discovered my real
connection with them. Another side benefit is that being away from my husband for a few weeks was wonderful. After I got over the initial “high” of having time on my own, I really missed him. I could see how much I value
our 30 year partnership. Since his return, we are on a honeymoon. That was one powerful “no.”
I often ask my students, who are self acknowledged people pleasers, to practice saying “no” once a day for a month. The purpose is to build their saying “no” muscle, which also makes all of their “yes's” much stronger and
truer. Sometimes they say “no” to me right then and we have to negotiate a more palatable plan.
Good times to say No:
When saying NO protects your essential values.
When you want to protect yourself from others use or abuse.
When you need the power of saying NO to change direction.
When you know that saying YES will carve a little slice out of you.
ALL HONOR TO YOU,