How To Say No

Sometimes it’s easy.

“Mom, can I go to the party after the prom, and then go straight to the beach in the morning with everyone?”


Sometimes it’s a little more tricky.

“Hey, Sweetie,” she says as you answer the phone.  You haven’t heard from her in weeks, and you know she only calls when she wants something.  You can feel the sweet, sticky syrup oozing out of your cell phone.  “We need someone to man our table at the fundraiser … just for four little hours on Saturday afternoon.  You’re so good with people, and I know you can help us meet our goal!  How ‘bout it?”

You’ve been going 60 miles an hour all week, taking care of the hubby and kids, falling behind with all those piles of laundry … and oh, that little thing called a JOB … you’re totally exhausted, and you were planning on zoning out this Saturday afternoon … your day to relax, to do absolutely nothing, except watch the 50 “I Love Lucy” episodes on that DVD you bought at a truck stop seven months ago, and still haven’t had time to watch.  You just need a breather.  But, you fold.

“OK, I’ll be there.”

“What a Sweetheart!  I knew we could count on you!  Now, Louise is going to relieve you, but she said her daughter has a big dance recital that day, and she might be running a little late, but I told her you wouldn’t mind.  Would you?”

“That’s OK,” you sigh with surrender.

Just paint “Welcome” on my forehead and lay me down at your front door.

Enter the motherly mother – yours truly – who insists on knowing what’s best for you, and who loves nothing more than to annoy you with raw, unsolicited advice.

Nancy Reagan said it best.  “Just say ‘No.’”

What a beautiful word, that No.  Can you hear it effortlessly rolling off your lips (which are slightly turned up at the ends in a smile of satisfaction)?

Try it. Just say, “Nnnnnnnnnnnn – ooooooooo!”

There, I knew you could do it!

Why be subject to the tyranny of the telephone?  Why do you have to take every call?  If your son just poured out his heart to you and you’re finally having a heart-to-heart, why not let the inopportune caller leave a message?  You can always call back when it’s more convenient.  The caller’s need will still be there in the morning, but this precious moment which has just opened a doorway to your son’s heart is so fleeting.  Take advantage of this momentary open door before it shuts tight with your invalidating insistence of “having to take this call.”  Just say “No” to the cell phone, and “Yes” to your son’s heart.

Therein lies the paradox of that dreaded challenge – telling people “No.”  You may think it’s mean to say “No” to others, but how mean is it to say “No” to yourself?  Sure, self-sacrifice is a wonderful spiritual goal to aspire to.  But when it comes to letting everyone paint “Welcome” on your forehead so they can lay you down at their front door … enough is enough.  Sometimes it’s meaner to say “No” to you, than to say “No” to someone else.  If you want to love others as you love yourself – and you’re always disregarding yourself and being mean to yourself – how much room does that give you to love others?  How are you really teaching others to treat you?

For everything you say “Yes” to, you’re saying “No” to something else.

Before you say, “Yes,” weigh your options in that little “love others as yourself” scale in your brain.  Simply ask yourself, “If I say ‘Yes’ to this, what will I be saying ‘No’ to?”

If the “Yes” outweighs the “No,” then go for it!  But if something is tugging at your heart, telling you the “No” is for the greater good, then bare your teeth, and make yourself say that dreaded word, “Nnnnnnn—ooooooo.”

Your heart will thank you for it … and yes, it will get easier.


2 Responses to “How To Say No”

  1. slowdancejournal Says:

    It will get easier? Really? Shoot, I hope you’re right. Here goes…

    • judyransom Says:

      Absolutely, Adrian! It WILL get easier. So easy, in fact, that you’ll need to take a self-examination every once in a while, to make sure you still have a conscience! Just kidding, but truly, I’m sure you know the more you assert yourself and your validity in this world, the more certain you become of the precious value you add to this world … and how you need to place it where it counts most! You go, girl!

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