I studied theatre in college and one of the sessions I was in with my fellow actors was a full-on improv session. As I was going through the exercise, the director stopped me and said "Angela, you've GOT to stop saying no. Improv is about saying YES." I was stunned. I didn't even realize how often I was saying no to what was being suggested. So I started listening to myself more and WOW, I say no a lot. I mean A LOT. Way more often than I should if I'm committed to living a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. The other side of that, of course, is knowing WHEN to say no. 2009 and 2010 were both years of learning my limitations. No, I cannot take on that commitment. No, I cannot be a part of your group. No, I cannot schedule a weekly meeting with you.
But I was missing a lot of opportunities in my personal life. No, I didn't want to go that ball game. I wanted to stay home. And mope. No, I don't want to sit down and plan that awesome road trip with them. I'm too busy and it's frivolous anyway.
So, I'm listening more and considering more carefully. Don't get me wrong, I'm still saying no (and saying no a lot) but I'm starting to say no to the RIGHT things. No, I don't want dessert. No, I don't want to partake in the gossip. No, I don't want to waste an hour staring at TV tonight when there's nothing good to watch anyway.
But yes, I will volunteer with your organization since I believe in what you guys are doing. Yes, I will return that phone call from my friend who I haven't talked to in quite some time. Yes, I will start planning and preparing for that awesome family vacation.
I'm watching my knee jerk reactions more carefully and considering all my options before I make a final decision. And it feels good. Really good.
How often do you say no and what criteria do you have in place to say no?
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