I never expected such a title or topic to come to mind when writing about aspects or practices of Spirituality. As I gave more thought to the idea of saying “No” to those things that do not support my soul’s expression or highest Good, the topic made perfect sense. It’s a way of setting boundaries yet doing so in a loving way, a positive way, and thus, a positive “No.” Let me offer a couple of examples.
When I say I’m unable to babysit for one of my darling little grandchildren, it’s not because I don’t want to spend time with them. I often have multiple reasons for everything and this is no different. In this case I might say “No” because the timing doesn’t work with plans I’ve already made…and…because it’s important that grandma not be the only source of babysitting services. When I tell certain church members that a particular idea cannot be pursued at the moment, it may be because of other budgetary obligations that take precedence or it conflicts with something else already planned for that time period or it doesn’t fit with the vision of the church.
In either scenario the decision to say “No” brings with it a need or desire to Know why such a decision is being made – both for the person making the decision and the one(s) on the receiving side of the decision. I believe the Knowing comes before the No’ing; to be sure I can stand behind my decision.
One of the things that drove me crazy in childhood, when I was learning how to reason things out, was when a parent or other adult would say “No” to a request, followed by “because I said so” when challenged. This taught me to be certain about my responses. And since I’m a relatively positive person anyway, saying “No” does not come as easily as “Yes!” – although my young children would have debated otherwise.
However, lately, I know that saying “No” to someone else’s request that places a burden on my time and energies is really a “Yes” to me. It’s a way of setting my boundaries so I don’t take on too much. Also, a temporary “No” provides additional time to evaluate a situation before moving forward and perhaps changing the answer to “Yes” or a stronger “No.” Whatever the situation may be, it’s important to Know the reason for your answer and be able to respond to the “why” if someone asks the question.
As I have learned to say “No” to situations and people for the benefit of my growth and independence, as well as for their growth and independence, I have come to know myself in ways I never imagined. I’ve learned courage and strength in standing up for myself. I’m uncovering what it is that I like to do and not do. I’ve discovered where I’ve been giving away too much of myself – to the energy-drainers around me (whether people or unproductive habits) – and am plugging up the leaks in loving and firm ways. I feel a greater sense of serenity as I say “No” to the chaos and drama, sooner rather than later.
I’m “No’ing” to Know the authentic and vibrant Life that is me. This truly is a Spiritual practice and one that requires diligent self-care and commitment to a deeper vision, a higher consciousness, of who I am. What a journey this is! You’re all invited to come along.