Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The One Where She Wishes She Could

Do I have a problem saying no? Do you? DK makes me practice saying this line: “Oh, I wish I could…” It doesn’t always work. I have a couple of issues with the whole “no” concept. The first one is that I noticed when I was a mom of many young children that I had gotten into what I termed “no mode.” You know how little people are constantly asking for things… for attention… to go places… to buy everything they see in a commercial on TV… and the list goes on. And so the word “no” became the default response to any given question. Whatever it is, NO. And I realized at some point, that while it is important to say no at times to keep kids safe, and to avoid that sense of entitlement kids get when they know that they can have anything they want, whenever they want it… there was simply no good reason to always say no. Instead my new strategy was to say yes whenever I could. That opened up new possibilities for activities to do. If there was something they really wanted to buy, then we could strategize how we might accomplish that. They could play with friends more often than not, and yes, the friends could even come in our backyard, if they could figure a way to negotiate past the badly-behaved golden retriever to reach the trampoline. So I really don’t care for the default “no” mode. I think I have solved that issue over the years. The answer is: if it is for family, I will try to say yes as often as I possibly can.

But the second and more complicated issue is when people who are not my family ask for my time. DK just sent me this quote from a blog by Seth Godin:

“If you've got talent, people want more of you. They ask you for this or that or the other thing. They ask nicely. They will benefit from the insight you can give them. The choice: You can dissipate your gift by making the people with the loudest requests temporarily happy, or you can change the world by saying 'no' often. You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work. Saying no to loud people gives you the resources to say yes to important opportunities.”

Hmm. I see the wisdom in this. I do. And I have gotten better. I don’t volunteer to bring the refreshments nearly as often. I don’t feel compelled to volunteer for the PTA… been there and done that. But what happens when the stake presidency (the area church leader) tells me that if I won’t play for the stake Christmas music program (which involves many, many hours over a six-week period), that they don’t know what they will do, because no one else can play the music the same way that I can, and the program will suffer. My first thought is, then they should select some easier music. But my second thought is, several hundred people attend this stake concert, and it has to be held to a higher standard than a small program might. Beyond that, I have agreed to dedicate my time, my talents, and anything else with which I have been blessed. And I am not trying to brag, but it is a fact that I have been blessed with, and have worked to develop, a lot of skills that are in demand. I know that when I agree to teach a class, or to play for a meeting, that I can bring something extra…something special to the task, that will benefit and many times bring the spirit to others.

So what is the answer? How do you find balance between yes... and no?


Carolyn said...

The holy grail of motherhood or any hood really. Balance. To find it. To define it. To keep it. Good to know that my mom idol struggles with it too.

I wish I had words of wisdom, but I'm all out. Of wisdom. Not so much with the words.

But I'm thinking you may have cookies in your future.

Terresa said...

Great thoughts here!

"No" is something I've gotten used to over the past few years, like a new pair of shoes. At first, a little uncomfortable, then with time, OK.

There's a beauty in cutting out the "extras" in life -- the fluffy, unnecessary stuff, and pairing life down to its essentials.

I still enjoy the word "yes," but I've also overcome the guilt associated with "no." Less can be so much more.

Thanks for the deep thoughts today.

Debbie said...

I find myself doing the default with my kids sometimes too and I'll even catch myself mid word and say, "you know what, nevermind. Go ahead!" Not always but sometimes I realize with them I'm just a robot with that word.

With other people I think it depends on the person/group asking. I am on the PTA and they have called me to help with every single activity last minute. So I politely tell them I wish I had more notice, maybe next time.

I realized though that when I overload myself it takes the fun out of it. A few months ago I really wanted to go to Enrichment but I didnt have time to make my 'cards to exchange'. So instead of going anyway I just bailed on the whole thing and felt terrible about it all. I should have just said no to the sign up and enjoyed the meeting for what it was. Eeesh.

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

For one, don't bring so many refreshments. People think you like to and they can certainly do that much!

I really don't like Oprah but I do like her, "I need to pray about that."

Try it.....but you can really listen for the answer.

Victoria said...

I DO kind of like to bring refreshments. It makes people so happy:) What can I say? I'm working on it.

My friend Janis told me that her mom made her promise that she would never, ever say yes to anything over the phone. She had to always say, I will check my schedule and get back to you. That way "yes" was not out of her mouth before she even knew what had happened to her. It's probably a good policy.

Cherie said...

This is really a great post.

I struggled with this for a long time. Many times I would say "yes" because I thought I had to and then I would end up grumbling which basically equals blessings gone. Not a good choice.

So now if I truly can I will say Yes. I will say yes to those in my life who always say yes to me and I really do ignore the "Loud ones" - LOVE that quote.

I also no longer feel guilty when I say "no" which was a huge part of it. I have definately come into my own, so to speak, as I have gotten older.

Jan the crazy lady said...

I have gone through the thoughts on this many times. I have worn myself out with too many yes's. It was hard for me to ever say no.

But as I have gotten older, I honor myself and my family. I realized that something always suffer if I am saying yes too much. First, my family does and my body and strength does.

I see the wisdom in that quote too. I wish I would have understood it sooner. We can't control everything. Working on talents is a blessing and it does need to be shared. But it takes real talent to know when.

Take care.

Della Hill said...

Yeah, I kinda suck at that too.
The difference is that I don't have as obvious talents as you do, so I don't get bugged as often.
I think there was some talk given some time about "Good, Better and Best", meaning that even though you can offer your services to do something good, often you should turn down the opportunity to do something good in favor of focusing on something even better.
Like turning down playing the music at the Christmas gig, in favor of spending that time with your family.
Just because it would be good to do something, doesn't mean it's the best thing for you to do.
And when I start following this advice I'll let you know.

Fawn said...

ah, I truly believe not one of us is indispensable, or so incredibly important or talented to be the only person who can do something! Sometimes when people say no, it opens up the path for miracles to take place--or for someone else to grow in a way not possible if never given the opportunity. I find that some leaders just prefer to feel comfortable and not have the "stress" of taking risks or even going out on a limb trying something new. If we have learned anything in this church we have learned that the spirit doesn't arrive at only the beautiful, or polished, or professional events. It's there when it's needed, and when we put forth our best effort--even when we can barely do something. It's the saving grace of the gospel, but never meant to be used as an excuse for poor preparedness or weak effort. Of course, I'm just as guilty of wanting you to play!!!:)

Tyler said...

Mom can I have a chainsaw and a pony, please?

(I had to add in the second.)

Black Lakes said...

Luke was NOT badly behaved!

Victoria said...

Tyler, NO.

Cambria, the kids used to take the screen off the window by the piano so that they could climb onto the trampoline and bypass Luke because otherwise he would jump on the kids and knock them down!!!

Cherie said...

I came back to read these comments - Ha ha Tyler - ha ha Good one!!

Cherie said...

I came back to read these comments - Ha ha Tyler - ha ha Good one!!

onebusychk said...

You are amazingly talented when it comes to Piano. I remember Linda changing the Stake chior date to accomodate your schedule. Because if you didn't play, apparently no one else would be able to take your place. Which quite possibly may be the truth of the matter. But the Lord provides for our needs. I for one am so grateful, you provided much needed insight for Alto's who could actually hear your comments about what we were doing wrong.