Make NO a part of your vocabulary
A couple of months ago, a friend who’d met up with an accident and was bedridden for six months shared with me how he got back his life. As part of a spiritual discourse that he attended, he was taught to say yes to everything that came his way, which apparently changed his life. Soon enough, he discovered he could act and direct plays, do stand-up comedy, and even sing. I asked him if the same could hold for the opposite – what if I were to learn to say no — will that bring a change to my life? Or would it be a sign of weakness, arrogance, apathy or mere boredom and laziness? I began to ask the same question to everyone I met. Alongside, I made ‘no’ a part of my vocabulary.
The problem stems from the fact that I believe I was born to be a role model for those aspiring to get better at multitasking hence I have trouble saying no — to social gatherings, charities, work assignments, household chores, dance classes, et al. It also stems from another obsession that I want to be in charge, which is only to ensure that things happen on time, with perfection. Of course, as a result, my plate is always full and I fail to devote time to things, which I really want to do.
Enter the word, no.
To begin with, I slept three extra hours last weekend. My laundry is folded and ironed. I learnt how to make three salad dressings made with lemons and oranges. Also, I am taking French lessons, and hosting poetry nights for the creative frat, and more.
What has changed?
I am a calmer person, who is not appearing at gatherings and doing things, which l know I’d regret the moment I leave or the activity ends. It’s saving me an unbelievable amount of cribbing time. Also, I have learnt it is okay to not attend every single birthday party I get invited to. More importantly, it’s absolutely fine to not state a reason for my absence. In any case, dirty laundry, an unfinished book or extra sleep hour will not be acceptable excuses. Experience also suggests that a reason often leads to friends, families, neighbours, etc. offering a solution to change your no into a yes. Best avoided. There are chances that I will soon be labelled as an anti-social element, perhaps the frequency of invites will reduce too. Which bring to another lesson, it is better to disappoint other than oneself.
So fortunately, while I have never suffered from the fear of missing out. I must confess that I’ve been a champion at apologising to people for being ‘busy’ and making up for the same via. unwanted, uncalled for overcommitment. Yes, I am busy, at work and outside. I have decided to accept it, foremost. There are chances I’ve been suffering from my diary is full hence life is on track syndrome, but as I grow older, I am learning to listen to my mind and body — offering it space and rest it requires. I am learning to live by the words — If you don't prioritise your life, someone else will.
In short, I know that if I need to finish writing that book, lose that extra inch or watch the last season of the Netflix show — I have to say no to the things that can possibly prevent me from doing any or all of the above and more.
Be brutal, say no.
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.