Rooms 402-432: Say Yes To No
It’s hard to believe that I haven’t seen you for the last 4 months. That's a long time. That’s almost 14 years for a writer.
You might think I came down with a bad case of writer’s block, or maybe I just got lazy and decided to go back into my one room, curl up on the couch and do nothing.
If you guessed the latter, you’d be right. That’s exactly what I’ve done.
No writing, no blogging, not even a scribble on the back of a napkin. I've gone completely dark. And while that might not seem like such a big deal, this is probably the first time in 25 years in which I’ve not been working on some sort of outside writing project. Not a screenplay, a children’s book, a song, blog, or even a poem to my wife. Nothing. It’s been work, eat, sleep, and lots of Netflix. I won't even tell you what time I get in my pajamas.
And while “nothing” might sound like a swing on the hammock to some, it’s torture for me. I’m not a guy who does well with doing nothing, unless it comes to lawn care or house maintenance.
I need to be ticking things off the to-do list, talking into my tape recorder, putting up post-it notes in the shower. I need to be facing a blank screen and an empty page.
But, four months ago, a funny thing happened on the way to the computer. Every time I tried to sit down and write, the room would start to spin. I couldn’t walk, let alone stare at a computer or compose a thought. It was like standing for 14 straight hours on a rowboat in the middle of a stormy sea. Call it vertigo on steroids.
The funny thing was—it would only pop up when I started to write this blog.
Now you’d think I’d get the hint and say no more writing. But not me. I prided myself on the power to say “yes” to anything. And so I kept writing. After all, I had a job to do. Readers to address. A work ethic to preserve.
Well long story short, and three trips to the stormy seas later, I pulled my head out of the toilet, looked up at my wife and whispered, “Maybe I’ll take some time off.”
She told me to brush my teeth first.
I did just that and took the next eight weeks off from any outside projects. Not surprisingly, the spinning stopped and I was soon back to my old self. Yes, I was still occasionally standing in a wobbly boat, but the rough waters were long gone.
So how did eight weeks turn into sixteen weeks?
I still couldn’t say yes. I had to master the no. And not just to writing, but to working weekends. 16 hour days. Salt. Marathons. Gluten. Lots of stuff. And if there is one thing I learned from my time on the Vertigo Sea, when you need to say no, you need to say no.
Like most people, I don’t like no. No is a tough, cold and stubborn word. Obstinate and apathetic even. It’s nothing like your kind and generous yes. Now there is a word that is optimistic, strong and confident. I’ll call yes the hero of the dictionary, and a positive affirmation for what is possible.
To say yes is to join in, take charge, and find a way. To say yes is to move mountains, find cures, and solve problems. Yes pushes boundaries and takes us to places we never thought we’d go. It’s not only the prerequisite to an adventurous life, but the secret password into The Other 999 Rooms.
You want a beautiful life, go ahead and say yes to every chance you get. Yes to a better job, yes to more health, improved relationships, and new adventures. Yes to joy, laughter, peace, compassion, happiness, and love.
Saying yes can change your life forever.
But, as I have learned the hard way, like all good paradoxes, yes can also destroy us, or turn us into puppets and clones, stripping us of our individuality. If we let it, yes can make us do things we don’t want to do, or shouldn’t do.
Yes may be the language of the swashbuckling hero, but no, my friends, is the language of the walk-to-your-own-beat, live your own truth, spiritual warrior.
If yes is Superman, no is Batman, a bit darker, but still a superhero, and arguably the second most powerful word in our vocabulary, which is why I’m making no the first new room of 2014.
It’s time to start shaking our heads and wagging our fingers, my friends. It’s time to border up the windows, lock the doors and learn how to say yes to no.
Take it from me, no is your own personal miracle maker.
Rooms 402-432: Say Yes To No.
Now, I’m not about to tell anyone what they should or should not say no to. That’s an individual matter and entirely up to you. But here are 11 places in which you might consider saying yes to no. Take it as a place to start from, and then make it your own.
And remember, a good no shouldn’t be defiant, unyielding, angry or in your face. A good no should be quiet, strong and confident, our own personal mantra for taking back our power, and living the authentic life we were meant to live.
11 Places to Say Yes to No.
1. Say no to putting yourself last. It may sound selfish, but your health depends on it, not to mention your happiness. And as the old saying goes, you can’t give away what you don’t have, whether that’s energy, love, humor, or joy. Take care of yourself first and your world will be better for it.
2. Say no to overtime, unreasonable deadlines, and impossible workloads that leave no time for joy in your life. Schedule your life so that it suits your inner AND outer worlds simultaneously.
3. Say no (or in my case, maybe) to excessive television, electronics, food, drink, or anything that consumes more time and energy than it gives back.
4. Say no to friends who infringe on your space, covet your time, suck your energy, and give nothing in return.
5. Say no to the 24/7 always-on lifestyle. Turn off lights, music, news, equipment, and, most importantly, the mind.
6. Say no to always being the knight in shining armor. It’s great to help out and be there for others. It’s a noble trait. We need more of it in this world. But don’t get trapped into thinking it always has to be you who is the shoulder to cry on, or the only one who can make cookies, or coach little league, house-sit the neighbors pet, or donate the kidney. See Tip 1 and then give yourself permission to say no. I know this can be one of the hardest things to do, especially when it comes to family and friends, but if your no comes from the place of your own truth, it’s the right thing to do. And if someone resents you for it, then the favor wasn’t asked in the spirit of gratitude, which just validates that it wasn’t in harmony for you to help in the first place.
7. Say no to the need to say, do and become something only because it’s what others want to see and hear. And while you’re at it, say no to blindly adopting the attitudes and beliefs from those around you. Be your own authentic self, with your own hard-earned truths.
8. Say no to saving the world. Opt instead to be present in each moment, sharing love and peace with those around you. In that peace and quiet you’ll hear the inner voice that calls you to serve the universe when needed.
9. Say no to work you don’t want to do, places you don’t want to live in, and situations that no longer serve your needs.
10. Say no to anything that brings you imbalance, fatigue and illness, no matter how harmless, pleasurable or intoxicating it may seem ( See Tips 1-9). Remember, even a little old blog can bring you to your knees.
11. And, a final bonus, say no to common wisdom and find your own wisdom. Say no to tried and true paths and discover your own path. Say no to old, worn-out rooms and seek ones that challenge and inspire you to become more than you are now.
Of course, when you start to think about it, there are plenty of opportunities when a well-timed no can lead to a life-altering change. Collect your own, then use them as often as it makes a positive difference in your life.
The beauty of no is that it asks us what to leave out. It asks us to know what doesn’t work, and in doing so, discover what we value. And because of this, our simple no becomes a choice, that when spoken from the heart, becomes a statement of what we believe and how we want to live.
No is the line we draw in the sand.
No gives ourselves permission to seek our own truths, follow our own rhythms, and listen to our own bodies.
And from that peaceful and serene place, there is stillness.
It is here where the room stops spinning…and all that’s left is truth.
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