There’s actually two parts to this conversation. The first part of the conversation has to deal with us saying, “No” to other people. I don’t just mean in obvious situations where we’re in some physical danger but rather in everyday life. How many times have you said, “yes” or not said, “no” for that matter? I have to admit that for the longest time I’ve had trouble saying, “no”. I know mostly it goes back to esteem issues. I struggled to say, “no” because I didn’t want others to reject me. Of course, not saying, “no” meant that I wasn’t being honest. I wasn’t being honest with myself nor with the person whom I was in this situation with.
As hard as it is for many of us to say, “no” to someone else, it’s equally as hard to hear someone say, “no” to us. Why is this? For starters, we often feel rejected when we hear “No”. We take it personally and it hurts.
A No to you is a Yes to Me.
When I say, “no” to you, it’s really a “yes” to myself. We’re being honest with ourselves when we say, “no”. This was a hard concept to grasp and one that I recently experienced at home.
Several weeks back my wife and I were on the couch relaxing. We weren’t on the best of terms with each other so there was a bit of tension there. I’m much more of a touchy feely type of person and was feeling like I needed a hug. I leaned in to my wife and asked her if I could have a hug. She turned to me and in a firm but not harsh reply said, “no”.
No? Wow! I could feel the little zing as if I was being poked in the kidney’s. That feeling only lasted a moment as I thought for a moment. I felt myself “in the moment” and realized I was okay. Even though she wasn’t in a place to give me a hug I was still okay. This was an important lesson for me to understand. My happiness and sense of security was not based on her giving me a hug.
I still felt a bit of rejection though and several months ago that same situation would have really done me in for the worse. However, I realized that my wife was just not there in that moment to share a hug with me. She was saying, “no” to me but “yes” to protecting herself. It was important for me to realize that she was saying, “yes” to herself.
Healthy relationships won’t last unless we can exhibit self care.
A few weeks went by and I told my wife that I celebrated her No. I told her that even though I would have liked a hug, I was supportive of her taking care of herself and being authentic.
Our Yes’ are dependent on our No’s being real No’s. Every time we agree to do something for someone or agree to do something we just don’t feel comfortable doing we make our Yes’ that much less meaningful.
If we can’t say, “No” our Yes’ don’t mean shit.