Saying NO to Really Good Things
Have you ever started a workout regimen, complete with cardio and weight lifting, to be surprised on the first day that you really weren’t too sore, and it really wasn’t especially hard? Only to find that as the next day rolled in...your body suddenly took on some kind of halfway rigor mortis, (without the being dead part, because you can sure feel the pain!) and everything hurt so much that you just didn’t know if you could keep it up. I know you know what I mean!
I am in month 2 of my life-makeover, and there are so many parts of it that are similar to the above-mentioned situation. I have always loved to work out, so that part isn’t so much of a problem for me, my pain as this time has gone on has been in giving up old habits and patterns and making changes that I never thought would be this hard and this painful. At first, it was great, but then then some serious discomfort rolled in as I’ve had to keep my commitment of saying “NO” to many new things, and even eliminating many long-standing habits and activities from my life completely.
The paradox of it all is that the things that I am giving up are not all bad things, in fact, most of them are very good things. Doesn’t make sense? It didn’t make much sense to me at first either, until I really started being honest with myself about how much one human being can handle, and handle well. In all honesty, a girl like me can handle an awful lot, probably a lot like you. That is one of my big problems, I take on WAY more than I ever should. Not only that, but I take on so many demanding things that the beautiful un-demanding things that I want most are constantly drowned out.
So, while I thought I would be much further in my life-makeover process at this point, and would have raving reviews of how effortlessly I make it through my perfectly planned and joy-filled days, I am just now coming off of a stress-detox, an over-achiever-detox, and an “of course I can do that-detox”
This has been a wonderful thing. It has also been a very difficult thing. If you asked me how I’ve survived it, how I’ve said no to several promising career opportunities, turned down scads of social engagements and refused the urge to eat lots of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, I would have to tell you (and it’s going to sound crazy) that I walk around talking to myself a lot, almost all day, constantly asking myself questions and then making myself answer them.
Along with still meeting with my life coach, Sandra Wood of Inner Path Coaching in Boise, I have been reading a lot of books and doing a lot of journal writing.
One book that has helped me tremendously, “The Right Questions” by Debbie Ford, has 10 fabulous questions that can help you to make critical decisions without consulting anyone or anything but your own gut.
Some of my favorite questions in the book are
• Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future or will it keep me stuck in the past?
• Will this choice add to my life force or will it rob me of my energy?
• Is this an act of faith or is it an act of fear?
I keep some of these questions written in my day-planner, where I will see them every day. When something arises, usually a really great opportunity that I really would love to participate in, I have have to ask myself questions like these. It has been most challenging when I have to say no to things like volunteering, or church functions or even birthday parties with friends. When these things conflict with commitments I have made to even more important priorities, I have to say no to them. This is the part that hurts in the short term.
However, the peace that comes is priceless. It is absolutely incredible, the way I feel when I make choices that align with my highest priorities, when I give up really good things for the very BEST things. For me, I have determined that my highest priorities are time to take care of myself, time with my children, time with my husband, time to meditate and study spiritually, and time to give the very best of what I have left to my career obligations. Those are my priorities AFTER paring them down. Being honest about this has enabled me to see that if I really put first things first, there’s not much time at all left for extra things at this point in my life. I has brought me comfort to remind myself that someday there will be time for other things.
So how have things changed thus far in my “life-makeover”? Well, for the first time in more years than I can count, I am not functioning on auto-pilot. I am seeing the view, I am navigating the course and I am enjoying the ride, though bumpy at times. I had forgotten what any of this felt like.
Take a chance today and say no to something really good. I promise it will make room in life for something absolutely great, and before you know it, you’ll only be choosing the very best, I’m looking forward to that as I practice every day...I’ll keep you posted!
(Second in a series of 3 articles for IQ Idaho Magazine, February 2008)