The Goodness of "No"

Having grown up being a "good girl," a "good friend," a "good daughter," a "good mother" & a "good person," I learned so many ways to accomodate the needs of those around me. Often that meant, quieting (or even silencing) my own needs. I learned how not to ask for things because it stressed my already over-stressed mother. I learned how not to speak up when I saw injustice from adults because kids shouldn't "talk back." I learned how to put my children's needs above my own. I learned how to bury my own dreams in order to support my husband's. In essence, I learned how to say "Yes" to everyone but myself.

I don't blame myself. Or anyone else. It wasn't my fault that I wanted to be a "good" person so badly that I followed "all the rules" hoping to get some "good person" reward at the end of it all. It seemed like a logical path to follow & I dreamed that some day it would be worth the sacrifice. AND, it wasn't anyone else's fault that I developed this deep ability to sacrifice my own needs for the sake of someone else's (or rather EVERYONE else's). It's no one else's job to measure how much I can give, but mine. People can't respect boundaries that I don't outline or defend. They want what they want & need what they need, so they do what they do.

On my path of personal growth, I have struggled so many times with this issue. The spiritual side of me wants to always give, give, give, but the human side of me gets exhausted from it all. I have learned that I can exist on very little. I know that I can pull from the depths of my soul & always find ways to keep giving. I can wake up from a sound sleep to care for a sick child. I can quiet my migraine to meet with a desperate client. I can cancel my plans to help a friend move, even when I have to do most of the work for her. I can visit my parents, even when they hurt my feelings. I can love someone, even when they break my heart. But what if "goodness" is not measured by the ability to sacrifice? What if it could measured by some other means, like how much I honor much the Light within me? What if the divine spark that exists within me was JUST AS important as the divine spark I support in someone else?

Life has an unlimited amount of lessons for us to experience, so we can simply choose new lessons. Who wrote that "Good Book" anyway? Me! It's always me. We write everything in our own lives. What if I included a few chapters on how to care for myself in that book? Sounds like a plan! And I've been working on that plan for about 15 years now. The execution is not nearly as easy as the idea. When you begin to change your story, it affects everyone around you. My entire life has been full of people that I sacrifice for. I have 5 kids, 100's of clients & an entire non-profit organization. My days are extremely full. As I make conscious choices to say "yes" to my own needs, it means a "no" is going to have to happen somewhere else and that, my friend, is the tricky part.

If you're really lucky, you will have some people in you life that will honor & support you in that. They will say, "Of course you should have some time to yourself, please say NO to me any time." If you're not as lucky, the people in your life will challenge you. They will say, "You've been taking care of me for so long, you can't stop now!" and you will have a choice to make. Honor yourself. Or honor someone else. That is not an easy choice for many of us. It means having to say "no" to someone. It means ruffling feathers. It means upsetting & disappointing people. It could even mean losing the "Good Girl of the Year" award.

What if honoring the goodness within you earned you a brand new reward? What if saying "no" to someone else got you a collection of gold stars? Could you do it then? Since you are the writer of your story, you can give yourself permission to do whatever you want. After all, this is YOUR life. It's YOUR story to create as YOU see fit. Heck, you can even buy yourself the gold stars. The bottom line is that it is just as OK to honor yourself and you would honor anyone else. It is more than OK to do so. Your needs are in the Divine Plan too, even if the players in your game don't think so.  

"No" is a great way to allow an even better "Yes" to happen somewhere else in life, but it takes practice. I've been told by friends & family that I have the most loving & polite way of saying "F**k you!" they've ever heard. So, I've made saying "no" an art form. In my early years of playing with "no," I found myself fabricating stories, stretching the truth so I didn't have to stretch myself beyond my own limits, but it never felt good to me. I've also tried avoiding people that I know will lean on me, steering conversations as soon as I see the request coming, hiding behind a busy schedule, etc. I still remember the first "unexcused no" I ever said. My friends wanted me to go out. I didn't want to. No reason really, just didn't feel like sitting in a room full of people. My friend called me on the phone & I had to say it. My body was trembling. My lips were stammering. It was rough, but we both lived through it.

Over the years, I've explored lots of new & exciting ways to say "no", but mostly I do it with as much love as I can muster. When I have to say "no" to someone, I hold them dear to my heart, understanding they will likely feel a set of emotions over this change in plans. They may choose to express those emotions as blame, sadness, anger, fear, etc. Their emotional process is not mine to go through. I refuse to pack bags or buy tickets for any guilt-trips. I just keep loving us both through the whole process. And usually, when the dust settles, we are both happier. No one ever really feels good about taking more than you can lovingly give, at least no one who is emotionally healthy anyway.

Just like there must be "50 ways to leave your lover," there must be at least 50 ways to "say no to others." Play with them. Practice them. The truth is that it doesn't really matter how you say it, it's just important that you do. If you come from your heart, everything will work out the way it is meant to (which is not always the way we think it should, so be ready for that part.) It's really wonderful when you can meet everyone's needs (including your own) all at the same time. I LOVE those moments! But, there are many moments when that is just not possible and it comes down to one OR the other. Someone is going to be missing out. Don't let that someone be you.

This story was brought to you by Deborah Lighthart, Psychic Advisor, Healer & Visionary Artist. The name "Deborah" means "Bee seeking the honey of life." Deborah's life mission is to help you find a sweet, satisfying & soulful existence. Her private practice is located at Feronia Wellness Center in Germantown WI, but she also works by phone & online. Her psychic readings are uplifting, accurate & insightful. Her healing work is soothing, spiritual & transformational. Her artwork is modern, abstract & spirited. She is also the Founder of Feronia Wellness Organization, a non-profit group promoting holistic health & wellness. Deborah believes that health & happiness are your birthright and she works in every way possible to help you claim it. You can find more information about Deborah at