I have often heard people express how hard it is for them to say ‘no’. I have been a victim of not being able to say ‘no’ myself or unable to stay firm with my priorities. We have been conditioned to feel guilty about not doing things in accordance with other people’s requests or whims and fancies.
After reading about accomplished people and listening to spiritual discourses, I realised that it is very important to take a stand and say no at times — to your own mind, as well as to others.
Alexander Hamilton once said, “If you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.”
This made me read an amazing book on the same topic, The Art Of Saying No by Damon Zahariades . An excerpt from the book that stayed with me:
“At the same time , you shouldn’t feel guilty putting your priorities ahead of theirs. You’re in charge of your time , energy , money and labor. It’s important that you use these limited resources judiciously to care for yourself and those in your charge. You’re the only one who can be relied upon to do it.”
Having said that, as an active member of Black Lotus Global Peace and Kindness Movement, I actively and deliberately search for opportunities to serve others with anything I might have to offer. This had created a moral dilemma in my mind — when to go ‘yay’ and when say ‘nay’!
Collating the little I acquired through books, discourses, blogs, articles, etc., I have made a few guidelines for myself for exercising better discretion in a situation, and then to evaluate if it requires my active participation or if I should take a step back and say no. I thought it might be of some use:
- With your time
People often demand your time and attention. If you are preoccupied with something urgent, it’s always best to say, “I am busy right now, can we talk at x time?” Remember to be polite and speak with love and respect for the other person and their time. Do not apologise for not being available, instead tell them when you would be available. If you apologise, it gives them a passive signal that you are obligated to help them whenever they demand and they have the right to get upset in your inability to do so. Instead, it is better to fix a time with them, with mutual consent regarding the task. If you don’t have time for that particular person/idea in your schedule, you can ask them send you an e-mail, etc., and then take necessary step.
- With your items/finance
I am extremely grateful about the things Mother Nature has so graciously bestowed upon me. This also evokes a sense of responsibility in me about my belongings. When asked for any material help, I become enthusiastic to be a medium of purpose. However, I know it’s only I who is responsible for my belongings. When the other person forgets to return (which happens more often than not), I politely and humbly remind them about it and they return it, usually with a smile. If they don’t, I remind myself it was my active and conscious choice to help the other person. I cannot blame them. Then I let nature run its course.
- With your skills
Joker from the Batman series rightly said, “If you are good at something , never do it for free.” However, there are people in your life you cannot charge from. Yet sometimes, you cannot afford to offer your time and energy. It’s always better to ask yourself if you can offer your services without deviating from your predetermined priorities. If yes, it’s a win-win for both the parties. Otherwise, the best way is to be straightforward and say no politely with humility.
My way of dealing with circumstances, where my presence is required, is to say yes lot more often than no. However, when I do say no, I try to be firm yet sincerely polite. Sometimes, only firm!
Doing things for others half-heartedly or out of compulsion makes you feel like a victim. This gives a subconscious imprint of submissiveness in the canvas of your mind. It also engenders negative thoughts in your mind.
Kindness doesn’t equate with always saying yes. Instead, kindness is the expression of the divinity arising from the innermost recess of your soul. It takes you towards the light. It enables you to become a medium for bigger purpose of the Universe.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Be kind to everyone.
Spread kindness like confetti!
Thank you for your time and attention.
Breathe. Smile. Meditate. Let Go.