On my dining room table is a postcard I made from a photograph of the sun over Gordon Pond in the North Shores of Rehoboth Beach. Superimposed over the scene are the words, ” ‘No’ is a complete sentence.” When I worked with young people, that thought was one of the most important messages I taught. I recently had the opportunity to practice what I preached.
Someone I love asked me for a large sum of money. It took me three days to reach the decision to say no, and less than one minute to speak it to the person who awaited my response. This was challenging for me– one of those times when I had no idea what the reaction might be or the outcome of what might follow. Initially I focused on how much I wanted to “help,” how I sometimes need to be needed, on how much of a difference my response could make in this dear person’s life. Part of me wanted to say yes. Part of me wanted to say no. I was conflicted–big time.
Then I began asking myself important questions– questions I might ask a client. Questions such as, What would Jesus/the Buddha/Mother Theresa do? Which conflicted part of me feels stronger? What am I pretending not to see? and then, most important: If I say yes how will I feel afterwards? If I say no, how will I feel afterwards? Then I encouraged my conscious mind to stop participating in the wrestling match, connect with spirit, and KNOW that the answer would come. For three days, I listened and practiced patience (with varying success). When I awakened the third morning the answer was there.
I know the power of words. Sometimes saying, “yes,” actually stops the creative process. The power of “NO” honors another person’s presence, independence and ability. Speaking the word, “no” sometimes takes courage. When spoken with love,”NO,” can be empowering –for all.