This week I found myself inspired by one particular theme:
The ability to say no.
Lately I have been listening (obsessively) to my new favorite podcast on NPR “Dear Sugars” with Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. On one episode they interviewed Oprah on this topic, and she shared with the listeners how learning to say no had helped her develop a stronger sense of self.
What often happens for so many of us is that we put ourselves last – and believe me, I know this, because I am a major people pleaser. We worry about doing good for others before doing good for ourselves… and that doesn’t really work too well, does it!?
In connection to this I think of a message we have all heard before take-off on an airplane: “Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others” – and yes, even children.
Because in order for us to show up fully alive, we must understand the importance of setting boundaries for ourselves.
We must understand that we are valuable. We are precious. We deserve to take care of ourselves – because, really: who else will? If we are always saying yes to the wrong things, we just end up frustrated, angry and drained. The time we spend doing the things we don’t want to be doing, could have been well spent on something else.
So when we chose to say no to something or someone, we are also saying yes to something else… Perhaps that’s yes to more time for self-care; that extra hour of sleep you had been dreaming of or a walk on the beach - or simply just time to take care of chores that will make your life run more smoothly…
Whatever it may be, know that YOU deserve that time.
I invite you to make a list:
On one side write down the things you must say no to.
And then on the other side write down the things that you WANT to say yes to, now that you have chosen to say no in other areas.
I know this takes practice, and for most of us, it doesn’t come easily… I believe this is a process of baby steps - the more we say no to the things that we don’t want to do, the more we can say yes when we really mean YES.
Identifying why you are doing something is a good first step. Are you saying yes because you truly care for a particular cause or person, or are you just saying yes because you feel "pressured" or perhaps afraid of what the other person will think of you when you say no…? Take a moment to identify what's at the heart of it for you.
Earlier today I talked to my parents in Denmark, I excitedly told them about my week and my idea for this blogpost. My dad shared with me a story about the world’s oldest blogger, a Swedish lady named Dagny Carlsson, 104 years old. Very intrigued by the pieces my dad shared, I did a little research on her. As a young woman she had never learned to say no: she had experienced an abusive childhood and later an abusive marriage. One day she realized that the life she was living was not the life she knew she was meant for - and she finally, perhaps for the first time ever - said no. With that came new opportunities, a new marriage later in life (she refers to her, now late, husband as a dancing god) - and with her awakened sense of curiosity she learned about computers at the ripe age of 99. By the age of 100 she was officially the world’s oldest blogger.
Dagny chose to say no to circumstances and a life that no longer served her, and she said yes to a life of joy & fulfillment. A life on her terms. And thereby proved that this is an option available to all of us throughout life, regardless of age.
I find that rather encouraging and, I hope you will too.
Love & Light,