How often do you say yes when you really wanted to say no?

Today is June 9 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you say yes when you really wanted to say no?” Brazilian author Paulo Coelho wrote “When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.”

For those who learn to navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well, many had to go through a long period of time of saying yes when they really wanted to say no. In many situations some life event like a death of a loved one, the diagnosis of a serious illness, or a career decision serves as a catalyst that shocks their system to waking up to saying no more often.

As F. Diane Barth wrote in Psychology Today: “Many of us are afraid of conflict. We do not like others to be angry with us or critical of us. We therefore avoid saying ‘no’ when we are afraid that it will put us into conflict with someone else, whether that someone is an intimate partner, a colleague or friend, or a supervisor or boss. Many of us also try to avoid battles with our children, because we feel that if we say ‘no’ to them, they will stop loving us.”

Saying yes is often the trouble-free course of action. Saying yes avoids uncomfortable conversations, keeps the peace, and allows others to get what they wanted at little or no cost to them. Saying yes can often allow us to travel down the easy path and it is the preferred choice for far too many individuals. If you want to navigate the chaos and translate your dreams into reality saying no needs to be a strategy to consider. You will need to say ‘no’ far more often if you want to navigate the chaos.

Saying no allows you to prioritize yourself. Saying no allows you to clarify. Saying no allows you to stand up for yourself when no one else will; or perhaps no one else can. Saying no empowers you. If you feel as though you say yes to much, when you really want to say no, ask yourself the following questions:

· Why are you not prioritizing yourself?

· Why are you not clarifying your thoughts, feelings, or wishes?

· Why are you not standing up for yourself?

· Are you waiting for someone else to say no on your behalf? Why is that?

· How long will you tolerate saying yes when you really want to say no?

Wallace Stevens was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who had an entire career outside of his writing. The son of a successful lawyer, Stevens graduated Harvard University. He briefly worked as a journalist in New York City before attending New York Law School and graduating in 1903. After working for several law firms in New York from 1904-1907 the American Bonding Company hired Stevens in 1908. After his brief career in law, Stevens joined the home office of The Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company in 1914.

By 1934, he had been named vice president of the company. It was during this time that he engaged in subtle maneuvers and started to write poetry at nights and on weekends. Stevens published his first book at 44 years of age. Harmonium was published in 1923 in an edition of 1500 copies. The collection comprises 85 poems, ranging in length from just a few lines ("Life Is Motion") to several hundred ("The Comedian as the Letter C").

He would go on to produce additional works throughout the 1920s and into the 1940s. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955. After he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955, he was offered a faculty position at Harvard but declined since it would have required him to give up his vice presidency of The Hartford. He said ‘no’ to Harvard. Imagine that! He said ‘no’ to Harvard because saying ‘yes’ would have been untrue to himself.

By engaging in subtle maneuvers and writing poetry while working in the insurance industry Stevens is often described as one of America's most respected poets. He was a master stylist, employing an extraordinary vocabulary and a rigorous precision in crafting his poems. But he was also a philosopher of aesthetics, vigorously exploring the notion of poetry as the supreme fusion of the creative imagination and objective reality. Noted literary critic Harold Bloom, called Stevens "the best and most representative American poet of our time.”

On her Amazon author’s profile page writer Stephanie Lahart describes herself as an “unapologetic exquisite black queen, black female author and poet and motivational speaker for at-risk teens.” Lahart spoke to the power of saying no when she wrote:

“Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.”

How often do you say yes when you really wanted to say no?