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Jan 09

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The miracle of saying no

This morning I got really triggered by an innocent request that someone made of me. It stirred up all my stuff about not wanting to be responsible for other people who refuse to be responsible for themselves.

Thankfully in the midst of this craziness, I had a conversation with my mom who patiently listened while I worked it out. Turns out that it looks something like this…

I grew up with an alcoholic father who was inconsistent at best, and abusive at worst. There was never any telling what would please him and what would make him mad – and the thing that pleased him yesterday might make him lash out today. I learned early on that the best thing to do was tiptoe around him, trying to read the cues and read his mind, doing whatever was necessary to keep him happy. I learned my lesson well and went through most of my life working as hard as I could to not make waves.

I found and trained for a profession that rewarded those behaviors – professional stage management. A stage manager is best when seen and not heard, not asking questions, reading the director’s mind, saying yes to absolutely everything and then killing themselves later to figure out how to make all those impossible requests come true. The truth is that this really ISN’T how a top-notch stage manager acts, but it was how I understood my work and I was rewarded for it, even though it caused me so much stress that I had terrible nightmares most nights. I took all of my childhood learning and attached it to my adult profession.

Fast forward to today. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown and healed a lot. And yet this one little request totally blew up my world this morning because I started telling myself the old story that people wouldn’t like me/would be mad at me/would ostracize or lash out at me if I said no.

The miracle here is that today I remembered that I’m an adult. That little girl who was so afraid of making her daddy mad isn’t the one responding to this request. I am – the 36 year old woman who has learned to say no. And can say it quite effectively when necessary. I’ve also learned some skills that give me even more flexibility than that scared little girl had – compromise and renegotiation. And THAT, my friends, is a MIRACLE.

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.themiraclejournal.com/2011/01/09/the-miracle-of-saying-no/