Let it be said, even though it has been before, that there is a liberating power in saying no. Especially, quite frankly, for women. We are cultured from birth to say yes, to keep everyone happy, multi-task, overextend to meet everyone’s needs.
An argument can also be made for the power of yes. I love the movie The Boys Are Back with Clive Owen when his wife suddenly dies and he becomes a single father to two boys. He decides his parenting technique is to just say yes to everything, with interesting results. New experiences, relationships, circumstances that result from saying yes are amazing things, a blog post in itself. But when you say no, you put yourself first in a way that can only be described as feeling pretty damn good.
Very recently, I have been learning how to say no. I have said no to a job that would have offered me more money than I’ve ever made before because there was no passion in it for me. I just couldn’t picture signing over 40 precious hours of my life per week to something I couldn’t even begin to get excited about. Not to mention the additional logistical commuting hurdles and costs. I also said no because it doesn’t take me closer to the mountain as Neil Gaiman so sagely puts it in his now famous commencement address, "Make Good Art." The mountain for me being life as a creative professional - a writer, filmmaker and entrepreneur.
I said no to sleeping with someone I wasn’t in love with because I didn’t want to wake up in the morning with that deeply sad feeling of wanting something that wasn’t there. “There ain’t no fucking chocolate, lady!” as the punch-line line to the classic joke goes. I’ve nothing in the least against sex just for sex, but the carnal won’t do when what you really want is 70% dark chocolate with sea salt and you have to settle for a Hershey’s Kiss.
I said no to spending time with friends I like in order to be alone and walk in the woods. Just simply to be, to refuel, to prepare for our transition back to America.
I said no to selling my furniture and TV for a fraction of the price I paid in order to assuage money worries. I decided I’d rather give them away to a furniture reuse store as a charity donation than take fire sale prices for them. It feels cleaner somehow. And I have learned that the more I worry about money, miraculously the more there are money worries. When I trust that everything is going to work out OK and I have plenty. There usually is. Funny that.
These are my thoughts on saying no for the week. What about you? Have there been times that saying no has been absolutely, unequivocally the right thing to do even when it didn’t make others happy?
Let me know what you think!
actor-writer-director, improviser, mother, traveler, life renegade