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(because saying yes is too easy – it’s the “nos” that grow us something fierce)
- Learning to say no is hard.
- Learning to say no without explanation (or lies) is challenging.
- Learning to say no without second thoughts is harder.
- Learning to say no without an ounce of regret, well that is that gold medal and a set of wings that can fly!
…and sometimes learning what to say “No” to is where to begin when you feel stuck.
WHAT REQUIRES NO
A wise mentor once asked me, “If you had the power to make ten things disappear from your life without negative consequence, what would those be?”
Of course I wanted time to think about it, but was urged to list them right then and there. WHY? Because my gut, first-thought-reaction, would be the right answer. If I put too much thought into it I’d over analyze the experiment. (but that was me)
So I began to list dreaded activities, a high maintenance relationship, a messy unkempt work space, email, a lazy employee, the in-box, possible sin, etc… Again all things that would not result in a negative consequence when I imagined it disappeared.
So instead of telling you what happened next…let’s talk about you. What’s on your list of ten items you wish to disappear without negative consequences?
The first couple items come easy; the last ones might take some time. But if you’re gonna take this challenge, then give it thought and above all be gut-wrenchingly honest. Don’t list namby-pamby stuff. Get raw about the things that steal peace of mind—contentment—joy. Maybe it’s a negative painful thought you replay in your head about yourself. List it. These are your Tranquility Thieves.
ORDER FROM CHAOS
Once your list is complete there are a couple of things to do with it. I won’t weigh down this post with the nitty-gritty but the short is:
- List the “Tranquility Thieves” from least to worst. Which one is just an irritation, put that as least? Which one will send you over the edge—ANY MINUTE NOW!?! Clearly that’s the worst offender.
- Is one (or two) of them a no-brainer that you can dump right now? Circle it (them).
- Is there one you think can’t change because of life’s circumstances? Put a square around it (those). For most of us this is a non-negotiable debt, in-law, or even your own family member.
- Next to each Thief, write what it costs you. Time? Energy? Self-Respect? Money? Authenticity? Happiness? List them all.
THE TRUTH TELLING
Let’s set aside the squared items—which are mostly life’s circumstances that you can’t control. Those take a little more effort. More than I can put here. But creative thinking on a case-by-case basis CAN find solutions to regain your stolen tranquility. This type of discovery work— I thoroughly enjoy with clients—because I’m wildly creative in getting your tranquility back!
As for the remaining part of the list—here’s where you get truthful with one simple question:
What is stopping me from saying “no” — “no more!” ?
No more stealing my Time—Energy—Self-Respect—Money—Authenticity—Happiness.
No more taking what is mine.
No more acting like these things control me.
See courageous soul, all of these thieves in your life… they are your choice. When you ask yourself why you do—allow—engage in these items, the truth is revealed. And often this truth-telling hurts. It hurts our head, our ego, our false identity. Sometimes you know this stuff and it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s deep under the surface and your ego is running the show and leaving you blindfolded. See, sometimes we say yes—regardless of it being a tranquility thief—because initially we think it’s going to serve an ego driven purpose.
Let me say that again because you need to hear this: sometimes we say yes—even though it’s a tranquility thief—because initially we think it’s going to serve a purpose where our ego is in-charge in a bad way.
It’s not easy to admit things like: I stay over-occupied, away from home, because it’s a mess there. I keep that friendship because I have no other. I’m on that committee because it makes me look important. I think those thoughts because everyone else seems to be doing better than me. I let the mail pile up because I’m afraid of the bills. I keep volunteering because I want to get on the inside. I keep going to that group–doing that thing–because I just want to be accepted.
COURAGE OF NO
The courage to say no isn’t always easy. In fact it’s usually hard work. But sometimes it’s as simple as gulping down and just saying “NO.” Much like the quote from the last Bits of Truth:
“sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage…”
So courageous soul, maybe you know how to say no. Grab those 20-seconds, pray, and go for it!
Maybe you need a little working through stuff and could use a coach, mentor, or truth-telling friend that won’t coddle or enable—but rather lovingly push you to regaining what is yours (and better spent on what your Creator had in mind for you).
And if the issue is so deep that you have no idea why you keep saying yes—and the help you need might dig up some deep things buried in the past. It’s okay. You are worth that extra help.
But no matter which way you need to go, to get to no—it’s worth the work.
You’re worth the work.
Your recaptured tranquility, restored hope and joy is always worth it.
The way you’ll feel when contentment is regained is exactly what your Maker wants for you.
Feel loved. Whole. Authentic. Real. And ready… because He has some ideas for you. But you can’t grab on to the new stuff that brings you joy if your hands are juggling tranquility thieves.