Man is a social animal; goes about making relationships. In doing so , he looks for acceptance, appreciation, affirmation and acknowledgement. The journey through life traditionally starts in the family follows through the community , nation and in this Digital era, it extends to the global village.
The psychologists tell us that each one of us needs four basic attributes to go through life:
- Basic optimism
- The capacity to band together for support
- The courage to fight for yourself and others
- Compassion and care for yourself and others.
These four together provide us with the basic skills for living in society. At the same time, each one of us needs to develop four abilities: to strive, to let go , to love and to create if we are to express our unique gifts and talents and make a difference in the communities we live in.
Since we are interconnected, what I do has a ripple effect on those around me and what they do affects me as well. Among the inner guides within our unconscious is the Caregiver and when it is activated in our lives and is dominating the other inner guides like the Innocent, the Warrior, the Ruler, the Fool, the Sage, we see people in need of our care. While our thinking and acting is dominated by the Caregiver, we reach out to help and make a difference through love and sacrifice.
Over time, we learn that we cannot be everything or be everything to all. We are then forced to develop a safety mechanism to protect ourselves against the demands of this world.We can only do this by choosing to say “no” or “yes” and accepting the responsibility for that choice.
Failing to say “no” can result in exhaustion; burn out, depression and being physically sick . Each one of us has to learn to make a conscious choice to say “no” to what does not fit in her/his agenda or does not contribute to her/his personal understanding and growth.
And when you say “yes” you have to willingly give fully and completely within your limits and priorities. Look people in the eye and say “No”, do not get caught in the middle of yes and no; it leaves people hanging. When you say it,mean it otherwise you will not be taken seriously.
“ NO is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple No.” – Sharon . E. Rainey.
Life is essentially about relationships and the choices we make. Choices have consequences. When faced with options, we end up making a series of YES and NO and gradually build up the big picture of our lives. As I said earlier, we are social animals living interdependently. We all start by conforming to please family, friends and peers and continue to ensure success and status doing the same thing. The majority of us will struggle to do what we really want without losing our family and friends. Juggling both family and work, one can find herself taking on too many commitments and too fast. This has resulted in burnout- exhausted and overwhelmed. It is our responsibility to empower the young to avoid and to handle such situations. It goes back to teaching them and supporting them in creating emotional and spiritual balance by simply learning to balance YES and NO.
“Until you learn how to confidently say No to so many things , you will still always say Yes to many things.’’ Enest Agyemang Yeboah
This is where the 80/20 Rule of Time Management comes in handy. At any one stage in your life, you have to define what is most important to you and focus your time, energy, efforts and resources on that. What you focus on always grows.
You have to prioritize the 20% most important things to you and devote 80% of your time on them. Anything else is regarded as a distraction and should not be allowed to steal your time. We all have 24 hours in a day but the most successful among us are those who have mastered the art of using their time wisely.
Developing this 80/20 mindset will help you to use your time effectively. The “urgent” will stop drowning out the most important activities that advance your overall purpose in life. You will stay focused on the key stuff in your life. You will be able to beat the stressful lifestyle that puts you under extreme pressure.
As we grow and take on more responsibilities only to retire later, the 20% most important things in life also change. You have to continue setting your priorities, it will lead you into making good choices about what you want to be and do. You will stop wasting time on things that do not matter to you.
I have learned to apply this 80/20 Rule on a daily basis and it has worked wonders. I have been able to do much more in a day and generally I have been able to move the most important things in my life forward. I have been able to do amazing things by reducing the distractions. It continues to help me find more meaning and purpose in my life.
Each day throws you many options all day long and saying YES or NO to these options points you into a different direction. Over time, your personal growth comes in a series of small, incremental changes resulting from the choices you made and your commitment to follow things through. Later in life, the strong urge to please, to fit in, to satisfy the demands of family and peer groups wears off and you want to live a life of more significance and depth. You consider what adds value to your life: what makes your heart resonate with your soul and what makes you feel good about yourself and brings fun in your life.
As learning is for life, I am still learning and trying to master the art of balancing YES and NO. As they say: Practice makes perfect.
One last quote: “When you say no to the wrong people, it opens up the space for the right people to come in.’’ Joe Calloway.
QUESTION: Are you one of those people who find it hard to say NO?
Has this post helped you to see the need to take courage and to develop the discipline to say NO?