The Cost of Silence
I went to a training this week and one of the things that we talked about was the lack of the use of the word “no” when confronted with a choice.
That is not to say that we don’t have other ways to express our refusal but they are generally softer ones:
“I would love to but …”
“Sorry, I’ve got to do …”
We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so we find ways to sugar coat our negative expressions. This can create problems.
At one point in my life I had some acquaintances who were building a multi-level marketing business and had finally gotten to my name. During the conversation, I used every soft refusal I had in my bag of tricks to make them go away. The problem was I never told them no and their training was such that as long as the potential client didn’t say the actual word no, they needed to push forward. It was not pleasant.
“No” is a complete sentence. Apparently we need permission to use it as such, without qualifiers or explanation.
This does go against our societal expectations. Especially as women, we are expected to be nice and acquiesce to whatever is coming at us. We are expected to smile no matter what and take care of those around us without comment or complaint. Though this is changing, I still run into these expectations each day.
Because we aren’t able to say the word no, “yes” is implied and if we can’t speak up, then we are stuck. We are stuck cleaning up after people who are able to do it themselves, volunteering for too many things, overworked and under appreciated. We stay quiet because making a scene isn’t necessarily acceptable.
There is a cost to this silence.
The cost comes in resentment and anger, lack of sleep and health problems. We end up taking antacids, pain relievers and antidepressants, as if these will fix the issues.
Except that they won’t.
Nothing will change unless you do, and yes, I am speaking to myself. This is one time where we have a choice and we can speak up. We must become our own champions because no one else is going to do it for us.
This applies to men too. The stereotypical man isn’t allowed to show “soft” emotions, only anger and aggression. This is a societal expectation though I know men who break this. Men are allowed to say no but struggle with showing love to their partners and families.
The silence that follows reeks havoc on our lives, leaving us tired and jaded with everything.
Can this be changed just by saying “no”? Probably not.
What can happen is if we honor ourselves by saying “no” just once and see where that takes us. Our life will shift direction and perhaps you will keep on saying no to those things that don’t bring you joy and yes to the things that do. You may find yourself in a strange place.
A place of contentment where your honor yourself by how you’ve chosen to live. Or your life may take a completely different turn, which can be a good thing.
The point of this is to honor yourself and the things you really want out of life. There is no honor in always saying “yes” either verbally or by not saying anything.
By the way, honoring yourself doesn’t mean you dishonor everyone around you. There is a balance.
Honor yourself. This doesn’t make you a selfish person, though the world will tell you it does. It makes you a person who has the energy for those things you want to do, those things that make your life work.
Its a good thing yet so difficult to do.
Challenge: If you find yourself overwhelmed, try looking at something on your “must do” list and try saying “no”. The actual word. Not, “oh, I’m too busy,” or “something has come up”, which is my personal favorite.
Not to steal from a certain ad campaigns, but, just do it. Just say no.
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