“The art of true leadership is in SAYING NO, not saying yes. It’s very easy to say yes.”
Tony Blair’s quote reminds us to work on our Emotional Fitness so we are not walked over in life. Learning to SAY NO in our childhood years respectfully is a vital skill in building and sustaining our emotional resilience.
As I sat among a group of young little girls in the Australian outback recently I focused on repeatedly this one area. When we do not learn to SAY NO we end up disliking ourselves; feeling powerless and resenting the people we give our power away to as we people please. This fearful habit taken into our adult years is crippling on our self-respect.
I shared with the young girls my story about the very first time I had the courage to SAY NO and not give in to a female elder who I’d found emotionally intimidating.
I was aged 33. It was 1995.
This elder was drunk as she rang me letting me know she was about to pick my two sons then aged seven and nine up from school.
She was slurring her words on the phone. I was only a few months clean and sober myself. I used to lunch with this woman frequently then pick up my sons in the same state.
So I do not judge her. I was her.
However, clean and sober and emotionally awake for the first time in my 33 years I had to SAY NO to her plan.
“Who do you think you are Miss high and mighty to SAY NO to me?” she slurred.
“I’ll do as I please and won’t be ordered around by you.”
I ended up having to stand my ground and repeatedly SAY NO as tears rolled down my cheeks, as she seemed to enjoy belittling me over the phone. I assured her I would call the school informing them to hold my children in the principal’s office if she did not respect my wishes. I suggested she calm down, just hop in a taxi and come over to see my sons at my house and have dinner with us.
She would not agree.
I then had to draw a deep line in the sand and actually call the school principal and informed her I was doing so. From that day onwards this elder was never allowed to pick up my children unless I had called and notified the school beforehand.
This woman has consequently wiped me and my sons from her life as I continued to set more and more boundaries to preserve my emotional sanity, my sons’ quality of life and my self-respect. This will never not be a sad state of affairs for me.
It remains until this day the hardest and most heartbreaking, life-changing NO I have ever had to say in my life. But saying the hardest NO at age 33 fragile and overwhelmed as a single mum only a few months clean and sober for the sake of my children has served me well. There is now no female on this planet I’d ever allow to intimidate me or have a problem SAYING NO to in the future.
I would never have dared to SAY NO to any of my violent and abusive elders in my childhood. People-pleasing became a survival skill as it is for some of the young ones I spoke to during my speaking trip to the Australian outback. My Emotional Fitness workshops are attended by school counsellors and chaplains and the young ones are given my contact details at the conclusion of my workshop. I receive many secret squirrel emails from little people’s troubled hearts after my workshops conclude. It’s such a sacred privilege to support these young and troubled hearts and link them to elders that can and will help them not harm them in these remote towns.
So as adults let’s review our Emotional Fitness skills when it comes to SAYING NO moving forward. Let’s ensure we hold pupil contact when we need to SAY NO as it bolsters our heart’s strength and delivers with integrity our truth to the person asking. It allows us to respond with the grace of an adult, not react and people-please with the grief of a child.
Too often we deflect, lie or martyr ourselves because we hold on to childhood fears of rejection associated with being told we are wrong or disrespectful if we dare to SAY NO. Sometimes another’s request will be unpalatable or unhealthy for us to agree to.
Sometimes it is just plain wrong to say yes.
It’s an important life skill to know when and how to SAY NO and draw a line in the sand so others understand clearly where their rights end and our boundaries begin.
So from this moment onwards let’s unashamedly honour our truth and improve our self-care as empowered adults who can and will SAY NO with respect if need be and build our Emotional Fitness in the process?
Let’s ensure that when we do say yes to others that we’re not silently SAYING NO to our own heart.
Mastering the art of SAYING NO with calm assertion can become the ultimate act in our self-care.
Lotsa love Cynthia xxx
© Copyright 2016 Cynthia J. Morton Emotional Fitness™
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