I want to talk to you about something that sort of crept up on me as of late and started patiently slapping me in the face until I paid attention. The subject is the art of saying no and releasing control, a pairing that seem to work well together, paradoxical as they seem.
The reason for this post is because I've got issues with these topics--I have for a long time. So many of us have these same tendencies and habits we don't know are harmful, but in fact, really are. But they're masked in the veil of virtue, so we don't want to question them. We're often taught to give, and give, and give of our time and energy as a behavioral ideal. Good Samaritan stories color everything most religions and spiritual practices have to offer and The Golden Rule is a standard that most people like to adhere to.
But how much self-giving is too much? When is it okay...good, even, to say no?
I suspect it has a lot to do with whatever your natural inclination is to begin with, since I think we're here to learn those lessons that are most needed on our journey. So, with that in mind, and for those of you out there whose answer is an immediate and enthusiastic "of course!" when asked to do something, it might be a good idea for us to examine the reasons behind this reaction and the consequences that probably follow, if you're anything like me, before you reach the burned out, grumpy, self-neglected stage... again.
I've noted the following pattern:
Person: "SO, Jen, I was wondering if you'd ________________________ with/for me!"
Me: "Of course! I'd love to!"
Mean while, the pile of previous 'Of course, I'd love to's shout: WAIT!!! Shit, too late. She's done it again.
But, honestly, I do love to!!! I really, really do. The trouble is that sometimes we hide behind our obligations to others in order to avoid the promises we haven't kept to ourselves. And when that becomes the case, it's time to change the focus. Luckily...? for me, when I start to veer too far off course of where my energy needs to be going, I typically end up absolutely miserable--a pretty clear sign, in my opinion.
For instance, I did something tonight that might seem really silly to some people, but it was kind of an important thing for me. I let me cat free to roam around my landlords' house with the other felines--something I'd refused to do in the six months (OMG, SIX MONTHS) I've been here. But it was kind of a symbolic releasing, because, again, my supposed obligation to obsessively protect this animal was really causing me stress and inconvenience where there was already plenty to handle everywhere else. I could have said "no" to my manic worry-wartish, mothering Achilles Heel a long time ago, but I didn't. Then, my cat decided to twice demonstrate just how unnecessary this coddling was (let's just say it involved a sudden christening of furniture), and I wised up.
This is kind of how it goes with me, in general. I'll hold tight to what I know in order to protect it, all the while miserable because, deep down, I crave change, until the universe comes and takes a baseball bat to my ass. Tonight I kind of said "no" to that voice that taught me the only way to keep something safe was to be overbearingly protective. That voice holds people back in so many ways, constantly presenting the option to sacrifice one's own happiness for what appears to be the security of what is understood.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Releasing Control and the Art of Saying No
Releasing control of unnecessary obligations is a good way to regain focus and momentum in your own life, but it's not the only reason we refuse to acknowledge the need for self care by not being selective about our yes's. The concern over what others think of us is a major culprit, as well, and at least a good portion of the draw to be a yes man. Thing is, I wouldn't want someone doing something for me just because they're afraid I won't like them if they said no. I'd much rather they love me so durned much that they can't wait to see the joy it brings when said solid has been administered. That's what I'd want, so, don't we owe the same pure intention to others?
Giving freely of yourself should be non-obligational, otherwise it's not free, is it? Otherwise, it comes with a price, a perceived imbalance that requires repayment. It comes with an invisible ledger to tick off debts repaid. You end up feeling used and confused and hurt, because you were never really acting from a place that finds happiness in giving to begin with. Only with the subconscious desire for something to gain. A very wise minister I know once said, (and I'm paraphrasing), "If you're not going to offer yourself with joy, minus expectation, please don't give anything! That's not love."
So, how selective are we about the time and energy and gifts we give? Do we make sure to only say yes when we mean it? When we truly feel a sincere loving urge to do good without expectation of any kind? I think that's a helpful measure of when something will leave you blissful versus a drain of energy. After all, there are a lot of emotional vampires out there who will suck you dry if you let them (but that's another post altogether.)
Are you hiding behind all sorts of things with strings attached and grumpy because of it? Do you find yourself lacking the time and energy to live your own life because you've self-sabotaged and bitten off more than you can stomach? It's annoying, isn't it? Whatcha' say we knock that off, eh? Next time you ask me for something and I say yes, you're going to know that I really freakin' love you... and it makes me super happy to see you smile. Kind of cool, huh? :)
I'll talk to you later. Love always,