It’s Okay to Say No

What is it about the mind that so easily overrides the heart and spirit? We have a physical response to cognitive notions. An idea will register in with us not just in our brains, but also on an energetic level, in our subtle body. This is where our truth lies. The mind is fickle, it can be blown about by the winds of change, but the astral body will tell us true, if only we can tune in…tap in…actually listen.

The intuition always answers straight away for us, but it comes in a flash. It can easily be missed. For many it passes as quick as a single heartbeat, a pulse and then it’s gone. For some it lingers, especially those practiced at tapping into their intuition. It’s there, and it reverberates inside our being, but fear and intellect so often squash that intuitive knowing…thus initiating the habitual reaction of obsessive analysis (and reanalysis and reanalysis and reanalysis…). At least that’s my experience. Am I speaking to you?

This intellect versus intuition conundrum is so common, I see it all the time. I was discussing this with my hero, greatest spiritual guide, closest friend and role model (my mom) this morning and she made a really excellent point that I feel deserves a mention here. Our intuitive response to any given situation or circumstance shouldn’t necessarily make the decision for us…for example, have you ever experienced an instance where you’re offered a really exceptional opportunity that you, instinctively, feel repelled by because of its daunting, intimidating enormity? I have. In that case, my intuitive oh no that doesn’t feel safe reaction may not be what I weigh my definitive decision upon. This is when reason and intellect can be on our side, coming in with the reminder you are capable, you have accomplished great things before, you can handle a challenge. Or perhaps, as another example, an attractive acquaintance whom you are drawn to, but know is attached, confesses to harboring romantic feelings for you. Intuitively you might feel yes, this is right, this is what I want but reason and intellect will often swoop in, reminding you that it is indeed not right, moral or karmically acceptable to engage in any way. You see what I’m saying? In some circumstances, intuition should weigh in, but not necessarily make the ultimate conclusion.

That’s only a small amount of the time, though, as I’ve found. In my humble experience, the vast majority of the time we are drowning out our intuition with self-doubt, fear, obsessive analysis, “what if’s” and other standard mental chatter.

Why don’t we just decide and LISTEN to the gut response we get, then drop it? Move on?

In the past couple of days I’ve experienced several poignant moments where something has been extended to me, an offer or inquiry, to which I intuitively responded on an energetic level. I knew my answer was no. But, as a lifelong, chronic people pleaser, I immediately shift into why not? mode, questioning from every angle why I possibly would turn it down and what might or might not happen as a result. Sounds healthy, yes?

I’m going to say something and I want you to repeat it out loud. It is okay to say no. Did you get that? I mean it, say it out loud. It is okay to say NO. One more time, I like odd numbers…IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO.

It’s okay to say no, but it’s also pretty damn hard. Seriously. For many of us there’s an epidemic of “yes.” There are also many who suffer from an epidemic of “no.” Fearful and resistant to take on anything outside of the infamous comfort zone. The goal is, as ever, to find balance between the two. Knowing when to say yes with all our might, and when to listen to that gut reaction and say no. Then, most importantly, not feel bad about it!

We have to learn when and how to say no. It’s an act of self-preservation. It’s an expression of truth, a practice of honoring oneself, a daring move towards confidence and trust. I urge us to be bold. Learning how, when and why to say no is a bold, bold endeavor. It is an endeavor that nourishes us holistically, though, and one worth delving into headfirst. I mean that it nourishes us in a very literal sense. Our adrenals, endocrine system, immune system, nervous system…all of these intricate systems of our physical body are directly affected by our ability to manage stress and maintain equilibrium. Never saying no, and thereby overloading oneself, taxes all of these precious systems and threaten homeostasis. On a spiritual, energetic level, the astral body is affected deeply by ignorance towards intuition.

Taking on too much is not beneficial in any way, shape or form. Neither is taking on something that we know is not right for us. Saying yes when we mean no. It does not make us healthier, more productive, more well-liked, or even more successful. Because if we’re squashing our intuition and smothering the whispers of our soul center, what is any of it worth anyway?

The truth of the matter is this: we are going to encounter wonderful opportunities. Some will be offered to us. Some we will take. Others we will not. Some will be just outside of our grasp. Some we will have to fight for. The point is that we are not meant to take every single opportunity that is made available to us. Sometimes the not choosing it, the saying no, is what makes space for the divine to flood your life and present you with the right opportunity. We are destined for greatness. But we must learn to navigate the changing tides and the temptations that float in front of us. You’re offered one more client and the money would be great but that would mean working an hour longer every day and missing the first half of dinner with your kids…or missing your regular yoga class…or, or or…sometimes sacrifice is not worth it.

We have to sacrifice to grow, yes. But do we have to sacrifice for every passing opportunity or experience? No. In fact, it’s an act of self-preservation to stand up, arms raised high and shout HELL naw! We are not built for the emotional, psychological, physical marathon that modern life has become. We are designed to experience and thrive in short spurts of “stress” (cortisol flooding the body, the sympathetic nervous system operating seamlessly), and then relax again (think of our ancestors being chased by a saber tooth tiger and then finding safety). We are not meant to work 80 hours a week (though I don’t judge anyone who does, one must do what one must do). We are not meant to run 10 miles a day. We’re not built to handle the ever-revolving, ever-chatting threesome of guilt, jealousy and regret.

That threesome is evil, let me tell you (or I tell you why, as my Oma would say). First comes guilt. The energetic body responds with a no, I don’t want to take that on, and immediately the mind jumps in with puppy dog eyes and says, but whyyyyy? Then comes jealousy. Well, if I don’t take this opportunity, someone else will get it… attaching to something that we don’t even want, and that was never ours in the first place. Last comes hypothetical regret. If I say no then I can’t go back on my word and this’ll be passed up forever. First of all, says who? We can say no and then change our minds. It doesn’t mean the offer still stands, but then that’s what was meant to happen. Changing one’s mind is a right had by all and that should be exercised whenever appropriate. It’s not illegal or against the rules. It’s life. 

We are not made to live in harmony with this wicked trio and we are better off dumping them right at the gate. Because it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to change our minds. It’s okay to let our intuition make the executive decision and feel okay with it, right away. We don’t need to talk ourselves into why we did or didn’t do something. Because we are masters of our own universe. We are the captains to our own ships. And, as one of my favorite author’s so famously said,

“I’m not afraid of storms because I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

-Louisa May Alcott

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