How hard is it for you to say No?
Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to say NO? Is it easy for you?
Earth Angels are always out there assisting others and giving so much of themselves that they hardly think to look after their own needs. Then comes the moment we just can’t take it anymore, and we have to learn to say NO, even to our own children.
It is OK to look after yourself, even if you are – or especially as – a mother.
My editor, Spiritual Business Mentor, and friend Susan Ellis-Saller wrote a blog post about saying no and inspired me to really look at this too. You can read her post here.
Say YES to yourself!
By sharing my personal experiences, I hope to inspire you all to set some healthy boundaries and learn:
When you say ‘Yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘No’ to yourself. – Paolo Coelho
Saying Yes to you might mean saying NO to someone else – Louise L. Hay
both are very much ok.
When I first came across that saying by Louise Hay, it really opened my eyes. “Yes,” I thought, “that is so true.” How often did I say yes to others and then feel resentful because I had to do something I didn’t really want to do? How many times did I have to reschedule my life just to please others?
I often felt my help wasn’t really appreciated. And many times, I went quite far out of my way to help my friends because I felt that helping others was the best thing I could do.
Whenever someone asks you for a favor, listen within and really feel into your body. Ask yourself if this is this something you want to do or is this something you are just doing because that’s what friends do?
My first experience with clarifying my boundaries
My very first experience with saying no – or let’s say with clarifying my boundaries – happened a couple of years ago.
It was going to be parent evening at school, and another mother who lived close by asked me if it would be OK for us to go together. “Yes,” I said. “Sure. That will be nice.” Later, she said that we wouldn’t be able to take her car, and asked if it would be ok to go with my car. “Sure yes.” Then later on, she said, “Oh, you know, I have an appointment till that time. We can only go afterwards.” I realised it was getting to be too much, as we would arrive late if we had to wait for her to finish her meeting. I would miss part of parent evening just because I’d said that I’d take her with me.
I debated for a while and thought that I should co-operate and spread myself thin for her. Deep down, however, it did not sit right with me. “So,” I thought, “what do I do?” I’d already said yes. Now, could I say NO in a polite way?
My solution to this dilemma
I came up with a solution that worked for me. I told her, “Yes, you can come with me, but I will leave at this exact time. I want to be on time for parent evening. If you are there, I’d be happy to take you along.
Note: Use “I” sentences and state your desires. (I was right to want to be there on time!)
I felt quite bold standing my ground, and I felt a bit guilty as well. Alas, it was so easy. She wrote back letting me know that it wasn’t a problem and she’d be taking her own car.
Wow. I sat there dumb founded. I always felt I couldn’t say NO; I feared people would hate me for it. The fact is that people accept our boundaries and life goes on.
That was a very liberating experience and such a wonderful first try for me. Yes! I am allowed to say No.
Saying No is a healthy choice
So my first great experience, I was reassured that saying no can be a healthy choice.
Fast-forward a couple of years into the present.
My oldest son graduated from high school and is now at university. He takes public transportation to get to school.
My youngest son graduated from primary school and has started middle school.
My daughter is a sophomore in high school.
How I started to drive the kids to school
I have always driven my kids to school. It started when my oldest son was kicked out of the local kindergarten for being an Indigo and he started at a Montessori kindergarten.
Note: here in Switzerland, children as young as 5 years old walk to school, as the school is always in the neighbourhood. Driving your child to school is the exception.
In America, I drove my older son and daughter to school every day.
When we came back to Switzerland, we wanted our kids to keep up with their English, so I was driving the three children to a bilingual school and pre-school daily.
After some years, we switched to the international school, and again, I was driving my daughter and younger son to school. My oldest had to go to school by public transport because his school was in a different area. He was only 11.
After a year, all three were finally at the same school. I kept driving them to school every morning and picking them up after school.
Sometimes, I had to sit and wait with one child while another child finished an after school activity.
It was a huge burden and very stressful driving.
When we moved into our new place, I felt guilty putting my kids on public transport, as moving was not really their choice, and I did not want them to relate the new home with public transport. Moving was enough change for one time, I thought, so the rest of their routines should stay the same.
Year after year, I considered sending the older children to school on public transport, as their campus was much further away, but I felt, I might as well continue to drive all three, as I was still driving the youngest. I, of course, also still felt a bit guilty because my oldest had to stay at his old school that one year long ago and take public transport on his own.
Finally, my youngest is out of primary school now, and I feel this is a huge shift. He is happy to take public transport – anything to help his mom.
I was so run down. The driving was sucking so much energy from me, and it was time-consuming and stressful because we drove in rush hour traffic.
My business was expanding, and after what seemed like a lifetime of being Mom’s Taxi, it was time to look after myself too. I learnt if I don’t look after myself, I don’t help my children either. When I get burnt out there is no one to look after them.
Time for change
My oldest, of course, was off to university and happy to take public transportation, as there was no other option ;-). We even kidded about him being driven to college classes by his mom.
Even though he was the one who always took our driving setup for granted, he was ready to be responsible for getting himself to school.
My daughter was not happy – to say the least – when I told them that I would not drive them anymore.
Change isn’t always welcome
My daughter started to try to blackmail me, saying things like, “Mom, if my grades go down, you are to blame.” (It takes her more time to get to school now.) I knew this was just a lame attempt to get me to drive her.
I was done with the guilty energy, though. I felt so at ease to have more time to myself. I felt I’d done my duty shuttling them back and forth all of the time.
They are old enough now, and public transportation in Switzerland is VERY safe. They might meet some friends along the way, and they’d be getting more independent.
I just had to remind myself of all the good reasons – regularly – so I could stay firm in my resolve.
Be firm and convinced
I was reminded of the times when my children would beg for chocolate just before dinner. I remembered that, back then when I was weary, when I said things like, “Oh rather not,” and was not so firm myself – maybe debating it within – they kept begging and nagging. Alas, when I was really firm and absolutely SURE I was NOT going to give them chocolate, they took my No for an answer, and didn’t ask or beg anymore.
It is really about how convinced we, ourselves, are when we say No. Like with my first example about giving the neighbour a ride to the parent evening. I so wanted to be at the parent evening on time, so when I said, I’d drive off at a particular time with a take it or leave it attitude, she accepted my boundaries.
Yes, my children have started taking public transportation. I did drive them to school on their very first day, but from day two on, I had them take the train. I knew if I started to waver, I would soon sit in that car every day again. Unfortunately, if you give your little finger, they might take the whole arm ;-)
Next week, I will share with you how the decision to finally say YES to myself, my health, my well-being and my time has changed my life. I am more relaxed, feel more at ease, and I am much more centered. Stay Tuned!
Do YOU need to say No to someone in your life? I hope my story has encouraged you. It is not only OK to say No, it is absolutely necessary.
Feeling deeply grounded and tall and proud like a tree will help you with saying No.
Download this amazing grounding Meditation called Connect with Nature from my Healing Shop
so you can feel connected within yourself and Mother Earth, this will strengthen you in saying No.