I have been on a longish journey to learn to say 'no' to someone because it does not sit right with me, it does not align with what I stand for. Sure, sometimes I do have to compromise but more lately I have taken the opportunity to feel into my inner wisdom, if you want to call it that. When I do that, when I listen to my intuition, I find myself reacting in a way that makes me feel good, strong and empowered. In the past I was always very quick to say ‘yes’ when someone asked for my help. I dropped everything for that person and cleared my busy schedule on the spot – I was and still am a people pleaser, wanting to make everyone happy. Until I realized that I was doing myself a dis-service. That I was putting myself, my dreams, goals and aspirations onto the back-burner. That I wasn’t focusing on Me, on my purpose. That is when I committed to putting myself first – you know, like putting my oxygen mask (in the plane) on first before putting it on someone else. Like serving from my overflowing cup. Like serving myself first, before I serve others.
It isn’t all smooth sailing though. Just today, for example, I decided to make the dreaded phone call to say ‘No’ to someone – when I had actually committed to a project with her just recently. Here’s what happened. A few months ago, I was in a conversation with a mother at my children’s school, when she overheard me talking German to my daughter’s German language teacher. She asked if I would be interested to teach a class at the local community center, where she was a student. ‘Yes, of course I would be interested!’ I blurted out before I could stop myself. Now, I am fully qualified to teach German and have years of experience in teaching the language. Here’s the thing though, I decided to stop teaching only a few short years ago.
There I stood, amazed at the opportunity, thinking that it was meant to be. I have been on a massive journey of ‘adjustment’ in my life for a few years. I had decided to rebrand myself by becoming a speaker & life coach. I had also written a book, ‘From Misery to Mastery – Journey to Freedom and Empowerment’, which at the time of the conversation, was about to be published.
So, I made contact with the manager at the center, had a meeting with her. She was happy to work with me and I was happy to work with her on a contractual basis. To cut a long story short, not long after that, she called to ask if I would be happy to run a ‘trial session’ with this class because they wanted to see if we would be the right fit, if they like my style of teaching, to say it in a nutshell. I agreed, yet telling her that I have never worked in a situation where course participants get to choose their teachers. Nevertheless, I was willing to go along with it. Albeit, the Universe stepped in before the trial class could start. I took ill, ending up in hospital for a week and then having to recuperate for months. I was unable to drive due to the medication I was on; my body was weak and my spirit was weak. I let the manager know and we agreed that I would call again when I felt healthy enough to start the ball rolling again. Just last week I let her know that if she was still willing to work with me, I could start in the next term. A few days passed, I was in a flurry of activity – all focus was on the launch of From Misery to Mastery. I even invited her and her community to it. The book launch was a huge success. I was on a high with the outcome. Then I turned my attention to the course. In the meantime the dates had been set, I had received emails confirming everything and was given a deadline regarding the program content.
Slowly, the penny was beginning to drop. I started to pay attention to what I was feeling inside. I started questioning myself: ‘Is this really what I wanted to be doing? Do I really want to stand in front a language class again – having to prepare content etc, etc?’ The answers were coming to me. As much as I loved it when I was teaching – I was really over it – been there done that. I thought that if I started again, I would be taking a step back. I ignored the voice of my Ego shouting over these feelings, questions and answers: 'But the money would be good, it would help pay the bills. You would get your name out there.'
I felt it in my stomach. It just didn’t sit right. The same kind of feelings I had when I left my family home with my children back then – I knew in the pit of my stomach that I could not stay in that house one night longer. I felt now that if I started teaching this class, I would feel dissatisfied with my decision before long. I would not be honouring myself and I would not be honouring my class. I would not be serving them from my overflow, but from my cup. I did not feel aligned with what I stand for in my life at this point - living life according to my purpose. If I took this on, I would lose sight of where I was heading in my life now, I would not be authentic. I would not be creating magic in my life. I would be coming from an incongruent direction and would not be living in integrity. My focus would not be on balance in my life. I want to inspire and empower those around me - I came to the realization that this inspiration and empowerment should not be happening in a language and culture class. I needed to honour myself – living my passion and not someone else’s passion! I need to live my life the way I want to - it’s not rocket science.
Just today, I picked up the phone and somehow explained that I had decided to not facilitate the class because ‘it wasn’t in alignment with what I stand for in my life right now’. I went from ‘Yes’ to ‘No’. I think, no – I know that she wasn’t happy. Her tone instantly changed and the conversation was over within what seemed like seconds. I put the phone down and felt guilty instantaneously. What have I done?! How could I do this, when one of my values is to be ‘reliable’?
‘Stop it’, I said to myself – ‘you are being true to yourself, you should not feel guilty!’
Are you true to yourself? Are you living in integrity and do you say ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’ because you are being authentic and living life the way you want to, not living the passion of someone else? When you need to decide: stop - look – listen – feel deep inside. Then make the decision. And if you sometimes misjudge the feeling, it is ok to go back and ‘un-make’ the decision. Pat yourself on the back for being totally authentic. The other person might be disappointed but in the end they will get over it.
If it’s happened to you, let me know what you think of this saying ‘yes’ when you meant to say ‘no’ business. As always, sharing is caring – who do you know who says ‘yes’ way too often when she should have said ‘no’? Pass this article on to her, she’ll thank you for it!
With love and blessings, Ruth J