Saying No and Saying Yes
Two of the most challenging words for us to use wisely and well are Yes and No.
Some of us have much more practice saying, and hearing, one than the other. Few of us have found a comfortable balance of saying no and saying yes.
It may be difficult for us to tell someone no, especially ourselves. We probably like to think we are giving, generous, and selfless. People may not be happy when we say no, getting angry or frustrated with us. When we tell someone no they might take it personally.
No matter what the question, some of us prefer not to say no.
It could be we have more difficulty telling people, including ourselves, yes. We may be afraid to commit ourselves, afraid to risk saying yes. It could be we see ourselves as careful, insightful, or responsible. We do not want to get carried away or need to deal with unforeseen consequences.
Saying yes may take us places we are not sure we want to go.
For all the challenges or potential problems, our lives are full of saying no and saying yes.
Each decision we make is a combination of saying no and saying yes. Every choice is a combination of yes and no. Saying no and saying yes are apparently essential skills for us.
It is almost as if we spend our lives learning how to choose to say yes or say no.
Saying no and saying yes are skills we need to apply to find physical and financial health. Our ability to say yes and say no reflects our emotional health.
Saying no and saying yes are also basic to the health of spiritual life within us. Listening to sacred stillness is a combination, a balance of saying no and saying yes.
Sacred Stillness and Saying No
Listening to sacred stillness means learning how to say no.
We cannot listen to sacred stillness until we let go of the things getting in our way.
When we pause to listen to the stillness, it seems like we are quickly inundated. There are noises and voices demanding our attention, distracting us. We suddenly remember we were going to contact someone or finish a project.
It is almost as if we are part of a conspiracy to keep ourselves from listening to sacred stillness.
Our minds are excellent at solving problems. We have trained them to solve problems all day, every day. When we decide to pay attention to something other than problems for a while, they see that as a problem to solve. Our minds start generating solutions to the problem of not thinking about our problems.
Our survival skills are trying to make sure we stay alert to problems all around us.
Part of learning to listen to sacred stillness is finding the easiest way to free ourselves.
We want our response to be easy so we will not need to spend much energy on it. If we take an antagonistic approach to distractions and try to force them to submit, they will distract us even more. We want to be as gentle, as friendly and pay the least amount of attention to distractions.
I practice a form of listening, contemplative prayer in which we choose a sacred word. Which word is not important. When we realize we are distracted, thinking about our thoughts, we remember the word.
Listening to sacred stillness is a combination of saying no and saying yes.
Sacred Stillness and Saying Yes
Listening to sacred stillness is more than merely letting go of what distracts us.
As we listen to stillness we also learn to say yes to the deep truths it has for us.
We could take time to listen every day and still not be paying attention. As we learn to release what gets in our way we also need to learn to be open.
Sacred stillness is more than the absence of distractions, the absence of sound.
We learn to let go of what can distract us. It can be just as challenging, or more, to learn to pay attention to the deep truths in the stillness.
We are learning how to say no and how to say yes, often at the same time.
It is one thing to practice the easiest way to say no to our distractions and thoughts. Many of us have a much more difficult time saying yes to what sacred stillness has for us.
It can be hard to say yes. We may have been taught to say no for as long as we can remember. No may be the first word we heard anyone saying to us. We may need to practice saying yes, hearing yes, and not expect ourselves to be perfect.
Some people practice saying yes to themselves. Whenever they have an idea or an insight they practice making their first response Yes.
We pay attention and reflect on our inner conversation. As we practice, we begin to find the balance between saying no and saying yes.
Sacred Stillness Shapes Who We Are Becoming
Saying no and saying yes, we listen to sacred stillness and seek the balance in ourselves. As we practice and reflect, we find ourselves changing over time. Listening to sacred stillness shapes how we understand ourselves and who we are becoming.
Saying no and saying yes is an essential aspect of who we are. As we learn how to listen and how to make choices and decisions, we know ourselves more clearly.
We see ourselves as we actually are, in our depth and beauty. Our image of ourselves changes how we choose, changes our saying no and saying yes.
Spiritual life works within us to help us find the balance we are seeking.
How are we saying no and saying yes today?
When will we say no and say yes as we listen to sacred stillness this week?
[Image by zogh]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.