Saying Yes To No

When was the last time your said yes to no?  Are you thoroughly confused by this question?  Personally, I'd never thought about saying yes to no.  I mean, isn't that weird? 

From my last blog post on letting go of perfection, you know that I'm working on ceasing on the striving thing.  Embracing imperfection.  And well, basically being okay with me. 

A few months ago, I had heard about another book from my podcast listening called The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. Shonda is a writer and "show Runner" (only in Hollywood) for 4 shows on ABC and I think she's a big deal, but I digress. 

Shonda kept saying no to invitations and opportunities because she was afraid.  Because she was too busy.  Because she just felt more comfortable saying no to things.  Everything changed for her when her older sister told her that she always said no.  So, she decided to start saying yes. 

As you probably have guessed, I loved the title.  Saying yes when things are hard or scary is my jam.  Not because I'm good at it, because I want to and want you to be able to grow from feeling the fear and doing it anyway. 

I finally got around to reading the book and although it does not come from a faith perspective, it chronicles her growth as a person by stepping out in courage. 

About 3/4 way through the book, she has an interesting chapter about saying yes to no.  She had me at hello here because it's the opposite of the year of yes.  And yet, out of all the chapters I read, I realized I needed this the most. 

If pleasing people were an Olympic sport, I'd be on the medal podium.  I often choose not to say no because I don't want to rock the boat.  I don't want someone to be upset.  Because I want to be loved.  Any Olympians in people pleasing out there? 

Saying yes to no is about saying no when that's what's good for you regardless of what others think.  Saying yes to no is about advocating for yourself.  Saying yes to no is about loving yourself enough to not doing things out of obligation, but out of love and passion. 

Sometimes you and I have to say no because that's what keeps us sane, and whole and allows us to live life from a place of overflow instead of frantic. 

I realize that no comes in many forms.  Sometimes we get to choose no.  No, I can't make it to my 5th event of the day.  No, I won't have time to serve on that committee.  No, I need to spend time with my family today.  You get the drift. 

Other times, no comes to you.  No, we're not going to hire you.  No, you weren't invited to this party.  No, our team is full. 

It just so happens that I had a no come to me as I was reading this book.  A writing client I had been working with for months and months wanted to go a different direction with someone else.  Ouch! 

In truth, I was ready to go a different direction from them.  It wasn't working.  We were not jiving.  But getting a no is never easy. 

What do you and I do with the no's of life?  Regardless of whether we choose them or they choose us, saying yes to no can be hard.  Saying yes to no takes courage.  Saying yes to no is really about saying yes to ourselves. 

So what do you and I really need to know about the word NO in order to get confident in this area?  

No Is About Priorities

I had a coaching client once.  She said yes to a vast number of people.  She would be just leaving the office and heading for home when she said yes.  Someone would call her when she was off and she said yes by answering her phone.  And in her whole week, the people who received the no's were her husband and the rest of her family. 

What I learned from hearing her story was profound to me and my client. 

Every yes means you're saying no to something else. 

You and I only have so much time in our days.  We all get the same 24 hours.  We can choose to say yes to things as they come or we can choose to set priorities and choose what we say no to so we can live our best yes. 

No Is About Growing

Every no is an opportunity to grow.  Your every no can be about choosing to learn.  For me, choosing to say no when I fear what another will think about me is an opportunity to grow in being confident in who I am and confident in what's best for me. 

During her time of saying yes to no, Shonda explains in her book that she had to say no to some people in her life.  She considered them friends before she said no.  But she couldn't commit to what they were asking.  She had not realized that these relationships had become one-sided where she gave and gave.  As soon as she said no, these friends left her furiously and she discovered that they weren't her friends at all. 

When I think about her story, I know for my own life I sometimes say yes out of obligation and forget about my own emotional health.  I need to learn to grow personally by saying no when what I'm being asked is not my priorities or God's. 

And even if we are receiving the no, we can learn and grow.  You see, as a small business owner, I'm learning that if I wait for it to be perfect, it will never happen.  I'm learning that a NO is not as much about failure, but rather an opportunity for me to learn to do it different next time.  

You and I can grow from our no's. 

No Is About Healing

Throughout my life, my no's have felt like rejection, abandonment, and failure.  And, I have some tendencies to believe the lie that we are defined by what we accomplish and what we get done.  

I have a friend who comes over every Friday and we go out for dinner.  Over the course of our conversation, we will ask each other, "So what did you get done this week?"  In our defense, we are both task oriented.  We like to get things done. 

But I wonder how often we judge our value by what we get done?  I wonder how often you and I base our worth on our accomplishments and skills?  I wonder how often we wonder if we would be loved without what we can do?  

I'm trying to practice this lately.  Not because I want to let my people down.  But because I think I've assumed that I'm loved for what I can get done.  Which keeps me on that little cage thing the hamsters like to run on. 

Saying yes to no allows us to experience that we are loved because of who we are and not what we can accomplish.  We get to allow ourselves and the people in our lives to define us by our hearts and not our skills.  We learn to let our heart heal from all the running we keep doing to be loved and accepted.  

Lysa Terkheurst has a new book called Uninvited out.  It's about rejection, hearing no, and how we can process it all in a healthy way.  She recently did an interview and for a few minutes I pressed pause to think about what she said. 

She talked about the fact then when NO finds us, we need to ask ourselves, "Is God good?"  Is God still good when we receive a no or when we need to give one.  She said that most people stop there, but we shouldn't.  After we answer that first question, we should ask ourselves, "Is God good to me?"

Personally, I love this.  I think we're great about saying God is good, but unsure if we can say that God is good to me.  

The one point about NO I forgot to mention?  No is about trusting God.  Whether we get a no or say a no, we need to trust God.  With his plan.  With his goodness.  With knowing what's best for us. 

As for my recent brush with NO coming to me, I'm trusting that He is good to me.  I'm trusting that I was never meant to work for that client.  I'm trusting that what I've learned through the process will help me as I move forward.  I'm trusting that saying No and hearing NO is for my best. I'm trusting that if everything else is a NO, God is enough for me. 

What do you need to say yes to saying no about this week?  I'd love to hear about it and pray with you.  Post a comment here or send me an e-mail.  I'd love to hear from you!