Two weeks ago I wrote about how important it is to say no. I believe it wholeheartedly. Some of you had strong opinions about that topic and I’m so glad you shared them. Today, in the name of objective journalism, clarifying my point, and allowing some of you to rest easy, I am writing this Part II, which includes when to say yes. In case you missed it, here is what some people had to say last week:
Many people said they were working on learning to say no and would try out some of the tips.
But some people thought when I wrote about saying no, I meant that life should be generally easy. In fact, I believe quite the opposite.
Some people thought I might be selfish with all of the saying no and now that I think about it, when I buy a Reeses I eat both peanut butter cups and don’t even consider sharing one so maybe there is some truth to this.
Other people said I might be missing out on personal growth and the opportunity to serve and sacrifice by saying no, and so I see it’s important that I clarify a few things here.
Saying yes is just as important and sometimes even harder than no and both are necessary to live our best lives. It’s the hard answer that is usually the one that will serve us best.
When it’s hard to say no, we probably need to.
When it’s hard to say yes, we almost always should.
When saying no is authentic, we should try to do it.
When saying yes means sacrificing good things for better things, lets choose that.
So how can we know when to decline and when to oblige? By paying attention to the emotion it creates within us.
The following emotions don’t all feel good, but are sometimes things we should allow in our lives. So, say yes or no if you’re feeling these things:
Fear: As in, “Yes, I’ll speak to that group of 200 people and share my story.” Or, “No, I’m not going to keep working at this job where I’m not appreciated or valued.”
Love: As in, “No, I don’t want to hear you talk negatively about those women.” Or, “Yes, I’m here if you need someone to talk to who can show you how amazing you are.”
Empowerment: As in, “Yes, I’ll be the Nursery Leader at church because, while it sounds hard, I know that with the Lord’s help, I can do hard things.” Or, “No, I don’t want you to do it for me because I want to figure it out on my own.”
Compassion: As in, “Yes I’d be happy to tell you all about the trial I went through if it will in some way help you get through yours.” Or, “No, I don’t want to be in a Facebook photo that might make others feel left out.”
Vulnerability: As in, “No I’m not going to stay home and hide until I lose the baby weight.” Or, “Yes, I do need help. Thanks for offering.”
Authenticity: As in, “Yes, I would be happy to send emails out about the event coming up.” Or, “No, I’m not able to be the room mom at school because it stresses me out and I have no interest in party planning. But I’ll find someone else who will be amazing at it if you’d like?”
On the other hand, the following emotions are not going to serve us as well and we should consider switching our answer if we’re feeling them:
Resentment: As in, “I’m so mad I agreed to do this job that I hate. Why do they always ask me?”
Anger: As in, “He doesn’t appreciate anything I do. He takes me for granted.”
Insincerity: When you hear yourself saying “yes” through a forced smile but inside you’re saying, “I’ll find a way out of it later.”
Pride: If I say no they might think I’m not a good person. Or if I say yes they might think I can’t handle my own life.
Guilt: If I say no then I will think I’m not a good person.
My parents (pictured above) were recently asked by our church to spend 18 months of their lives in Kenya working in a Self Reliance Center. They’ve been asked to change life as they know it completely. They’re being asked to leave behind the people and stores and hobbies and places that they are familiar with. They’ve been asked to miss out on grandchildren scoring winning soccer goals and learning to walk and being born. To put their own personal goals and interests on hold for 18 months and focus on loving the people in Kenya instead.
They said yes.
They’re feeling fear right now. Fear over what life will be like and whether or not they’re up to the task. They’re feeling love too. Indescribable love for people they’ve never met. They said yes out of feelings of fear and love and empowerment and compassion and a willingness to be vulnerable. They said yes out of faith that all of these emotions don’t mean that something is wrong. They mean they are onto something good and big and right. They said yes authentically. When they return, they will be different people. And they will connect with people they never imagined they would meet. There are people in Kenya who need exactly what they, and only they, can offer. How frightening and wonderful is that?
Saying yes or no is not the point. Being authentic and brave and willing to do hard things (even if saying no is the hard thing) and experiencing loving feelings about others… that is the point.
Thank you for your comments. Love to you all.