Over the years I have discovered that one of my greatest fears is that I do not like being a disappointment to people. This has gotten me in to some very difficult situations in my life. It has caused me to behave in ways that I did not want to. It has made my reaction to certain events and statements to be not so honest and not so true. It also made me say yes to things that I did not want to say yes to.
I became active in many activities and groups by saying yes. I have gone to places and did things I literally hated doing by saying yes. My need to be seen as a good girl, caused me to say yes to people I did not want to. My desire to not disappoint anyone, has made me say yes at times when that was not the right answer to give.
Over the years, all that yes saying caused me to have some major meltdowns in my life. Sometimes I would just shut down, not leaving the house, or getting out of the bed. Falling off the face of the earth and not contacting anyone. Sometimes I would have these loud verbal explosions, yelling and screaming peppered with a few choice words. Not a pretty site to behold.
Where my desire to please people came from, I am not exactly sure. I am know it comes from a place very early on in childhood, and it just stuck with me. In my mind, the idea of disappointing those I love or who are depending on me, is the greatest of sins that can be committed. What I did not realize was that I was committing an ever bigger sin, setting myself up for what was sure to be a failure. I could not complete everything that I signed up for. There was no way any regular human could work on everything I said I could do. I was trying to be super woman, and I was just plain ole Wendy. And because I had managed to pull off the impossible before, when I finally got the nerve to ask for help, people would laugh, say that of course I could do it. But I couldn’t. There were not enough hours in the day for me to do it, and so I became overwhelmed and would just disappear. Fall off the planet, not answer phone, not answer door, not respond to emails or faxes..I just went away. Then I would come back, only to start the same cycle over and over again,
During one of those cycles of leaving, I was reading a book, a romance novel. That is when I saw it. I don’t remember exactly the plot was, but the main character said something that gave me power. No. What I saw was that this little word no was a complete sentence. It does not require any other words or parts of grammar to go with it. It is a verb, and a noun. It is total and complete. No. When you type it on your computer and put a period after it, there are not green squiggly lines under it saying that there is a grammatical error. No. So simple, yet so powerful. No. Such a liberating word, giving a since of freedom from whatever has holding you down. It can be said softly, no. Or it can be said with force and firmness, No! It can also be shouted from the rooftops, NO!!! It can be sung like a song, no, no, no..(that is how the two year old says it..lol). No does not require any explanations. It can stand alone, all by itself.
It was a word I needed to add to my vocabulary. It was a word that I needed to feel not guilty about using. I needed to understand that no was not the disappointment, but yes, with non-delivery. I began to see that I was disappointing myself by setting unreasonable expectations that could never be meet. I now saw that the word no, was actually a way to take away the disappointment. It was an outcome that had already been met. No is not negative, it is in many ways positive.
In life, people will be disappointed every day, I can’t help that, but it is not the end of the world. I was disappointing more people by saying that I could do so many different things, and then not being able to complete any of them. Even more than that, I was disappointing myself. My lack of balancing my life was disappointing me. It was throwing my life off kilter and out of whack. The ability to say no has given me the ability to say yes. Yes to me. Yes to doing what I want to do. Yes to being who I am capable of being. Yes to making commitments to those things and people that bring joy and pleasure to my life. Now even when I occasionally say yes to those things I don’t want to do, no allows me to limit the scope of my yes. In some ways, I am able to say yes, because I am able to say no.
The power of such a small word, total and complete, all by itself…no.