Hopes & Dreams
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Hopes & Dreams

Finding the power in saying “No”


I had an email the other day asking was I ok to continue to do a number of tasks I fulfil with the Quaker community. I said yes to most but no to changing the posters on the outside board. No big deal you may think but to say no as easily as it came is a sign that I am growing. The board is too sophisticated for me who likes simple. It is the key you have to get to open it. It is not a straightforward key it reminds me of one those kiddie learning aids that seek to educate the kid that certain shapes have to be matched with certain holes.

I might put up with that but then the skill is to place the new poster, shut the front and lock it without the poster falling to the ground. We have a great word in the UK for this ‘faff’. It is a faff and I can't be bothered with faffing about. There may be someone else better skilled at this task or faffing but not I. So with ease, I said no.

I felt I had tried the task decided it is not for me so no was the right response. It has taken me years to overcome the prejudice against the word No. Yes, it does sound negative but it is a positive negative.

The other day some asked for a lend of a phone charger. I didn’t feel it was appropriate in the context I was seeing the person and time was against me so I said no. The manner in which he said it and the accompanying attitude, at least my perception of both, did not endear me to a yes. He expected a yes and raged against the no. I understood I raged against a no when someone wanted to raise the fees for a service but I learned in that experience that a person has a right to do say no or raise fees it is for me to decide how I respond. The truth is I have used emotions and personalisation to get my way, “How can you raise the fees when I told you I am struggling to afford this.” I can decide to go elsewhere but at that moment I defaulted to emotions to get what I wanted. It wasn’t unreasonable but it was emotional manipulation.

The hardest place to say no is within the parent-child relationship. I recently after many years had to say no and override my own emotions which tried to tell me I was being mean. I wasn’t being mean but those voices from the past were trying to live.

On Monday I had an appointment with the hygienist. I always struggle with their lack of positivity, my perception. Where else do I pay £57 to be told I need to do better? It was, “ I would like you to floss at night rather than in the morning” that got me. Excuse me they are my teeth, not yours. Since when did the hygienist start owning my teeth? I didn’t say that but I did say, “ We have talked about this before I am doing what I am doing and it I who lives with the consequences.”

At the end of the appointment, I did feel the need to explain, “ I find hygienists very negative people. You are not the first I have had three. There are no positives there is always something to do better. I don’t mind doing better but I am more likely to listen when I hear some positives. I accept this is a reflection of me.”

Initially, she sought to defend my perception. I wasn’t seeking a defence I was hoping that she may understand how I tick and with that knowledge we could work together better. Again it is ok to say how you feel uncomfortable as you may feel while saying it. I am aware I need to hone the skill of reducing the emotion in which I speak on such matters. The emotion can be difficult which reflects my difficulty in speaking honestly on sensitive subjects.

Last week I was centred on the question of, “Remember a time when you were certain of love and felt safe.” I have had a number of responses which are enlightening about what answers that question for us. I got into a dialogue with a friend about it and found myself listing it seemed up to 20 people who I have felt love. I felt blessed after doing it and wondered why I had struggled to remember last week.

But it is like that. We can have moments where we forget the truth and feel less. I was aware that in another matter I was feeling falsely responsible. I have done all I can in a timely manner yet another is dissatisfied. The old emotions rather than feel an equal are playing the conditioned dog. I could feel that part of me that felt, “ I should have been able to push this”. To hell with that, I did what I could I need not feel responsible.

If we don’t get a handle on the falsehoods that have shaped our lives we will continue to be as conditioned dogs always seeking approval of another. We are more than conditioned dogs we are fearfully and wonderfully made.




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