Saying Yes by Saying No

When you say “yes” to others, make sure you are not saying “no” to yourself. ~ Paulo Coelho

I used to pride myself on my ability to get along with challenging people (oh who am I kidding, I sill do a bit but I no longer seek it out). One time I was working on a project where there was conflict between two parties. I did everything I could to make everyone happy. I did a good job of it for a while until in a hasty attempt to resolve an issue, I sent a message that might not have shined the best light on one of the parties. At that point I was criticised for not being fair. This hit me hard because I was trying so hard to please everyone involved.

I knew in theory that you can't please all of the people all of the time, but this was the first time it really hit home. At least with people who's opinions I cared about. I believe this was the beginning of my lesson that the true test for me is not how well I can get along with other people, but how well I can take care of and set boundaries for myself.

If you are emotionally sensitive or excitable, you likely enjoy making other people happy. It might have gotten to the point where you put other people's needs before your own. But you have something unique to share with the world and if you are too busy saying yes to things that aren't in line with your purpose and vision in life, you are saying no to something that is.

The next time someone asks you do do something, here are some questions you might ask yourself before you respond:

Will it make me pull my hair out? If the prospect of what they are asking is so stressful to you that it makes you want to pull your hair out, there is very little justification to do it.I'm certain that you can find something to move you toward your purpose and vision that isn't as stressful and if there isn't, consider reexamining you vision.

Is it in line with my vision and purpose? Now let me be clear, play, rest and self-care are contributing to your purpose and vision. You don't have to spend every waking moment working toward a higher goal. It is helpful though that if you choose to spend your time on rest and play that you are doing it mindfully and not out of default mode.

Is it fun? Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication is fond of saying, "Don't do anything that isn't play." If it is not something you find enjoyable, ask yourself...

Is there something more fun that will move me toward my goal? It might not be fun at first, but if you can see the value in it, you can make it more enjoyable.  Find the fun in it by telling yourself "I'm choosing to ___ because I want ___.."

Do you have the time? If it's in line with your vision and purpose, is fun (or you can make it more fun) and you have the time, then by all means say yes.

If you don't have the time, ask yourself...

Does it have priority over other things on my list? If it does not, then let it go. If it does take priority, either delegate or say no to something else.

So what is something you have said no to recently that wasn't in line with your vision and purpose?