Learning to Say No

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We can’t ever REALLY say yes, until we learn to say no. Attributed to Oprah Winfrey

Recently a headhunter e-mailed me asking me if I had interest in returning to Wall Street as a sell-side equity analyst. I politely declined – I’ve moved on, am taking my career in another direction.

A few days later, he e-mailed me again. “We think you’d be perfect. You could not only follow the stocks, maybe also you could manage the group.”

They want me, they really want me.

Oh, it feels so good to be wanted.

And so, rather than saying no immediately, I relished this feeling of being wanted a little longer than I needed to – when ultimately I knew my answer would be no.

And, the fact is that even allowing myself this one-day dalliance with the thought of “they like me” means I have, in some small way, closed the door on my new tasks, my own daring to dream.

Here we've dramatically downsized our lives, tightened our belts, and have lived through what have been two years of uncertainty, because we are daring to dream.

Why would I dally for even a moment?

Because it feels SOOO good to be wanted.

For you it may not be a job offer, but someone asking you to chair a volunteer committee – just one more assignment. Just one more speech. Or babysit one more time.

Do you remember Psyche’s fourth task on her hero’s journey?

Psyche must learn to say no, which in essence is learning to exercise choice. And for women whose lives are focused on care giving, actively choosing and saying “no” is especially difficult.

But as we practice saying no, Psyche and all of us are saying, this is my story. I am the hero. I will not be imposed upon or diverted as I set about to accomplish my goals. Because we cannot accomplish what we set out to do, or determine our life course until we learn to say no.

What can you say no to today?

When you say no, is it uncomfortable, awkward? Remember when we are making room for an emerging piece of our identity, it will initially feel like we're losing something. So, if you feel just a wee bit awkward, you are probably on the right track!

Is there something you want to say no to, but you haven't yet because it feels good to be wanted?

Most importantly, by saying no, what dream will you be saying yes to?

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