The truth is, saying NO is hard for women. I know that I have a very hard saying it, and I will often push myself to the limit and not do stuff that is important to ME to take care of others. It’s just the way I was raised- and the way I was raising my daughter. However, it’s time for things to change. It took a worldwide pandemic for me to learn this lesson that it’s okay to say no.
In these uncertain days when the whole world has seemed to go a little crazy, I’ve had to say “No” for more than just my own comfort. When asked to babysit a friend’s kids, I said no, because our family has 3 immunocompromised people that I could not expose to the virus. I asked people to please back away from my personal space on the few times I went out, even though they grumbled at me because I was very uncomfortable. I even said no to letting my kids get together with friends, even though “all the other parents” said yes. These “No’s” were easy- because they were important.
Gina Devee says in her book, The Audacity To Be a Queen- that “many women never experience their desires in life because they are caught up in what they ‘should do’ to please others or be responsible, and limiting themselves with a perceived lack of money or time.” This was who I used to be, but I stopped when what I “should be doing for others” endangered those I love. I needed to teach my daughter that “’ No, thank you”, ‘Sorry, No, I can’t’, or just flat out ‘No’ are all full, acceptable sentences.
There are three things that I told her to keep in mind while learning to say no.
- Be clear with yourself of what your own values are.
- Someone else’s need is not always your call to action.
- Learn to be okay with other’s disapproval – if it’s something you feel strongly about.
Because we spend a lot of time taking care of others as nurturing women, we forget to take care of ourselves. We need our kids to know that while it’s very important to give back and help others, you have to take care of yourself first. That whole “put on your oxygen mask first” thing is true. You can’t give if you’re empty. Learning to say no leaves room for you to take care of yourself first, so you can help someone later. This is the lesson I want my daughter to learn.