[SiH] Feature Article: The Impact of “No”

Success in Harmony

June 2007 – Vol. IV, Issue 5

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Feature Article: The Impact of “No”

I’ve noticed recently that as my youngest nears her second birthday, I hear myself saying “no” more and more. In fact, sometimes it’s “no, sweetie,” sometimes “NO!” and sometimes (breathlessly) “oh no, NO!” She provides us with a bit of a challenge, as she is a speedy child with natural curiosity. She also wants to do everything that her older sister does. And, just to provide you with a glimpse into her personality, my father calls her “Miss Destruction.”

The other thing that I’ve noticed is that on those days where I’ve been saying “no” over and over again, I feel pretty exasperated and she gets very, very cranky. On those days, she cries more than she’s happy, and I’m reminded of the parenting advice to “redirect, redirect, redirect.” The demoralizing effect of constantly hearing “no” all the time is pretty obvious in my usually sunny little toddler. In addition, my “no”s are so often accompanied by facial expressions and body language of stress, frustration or anger. How could I expect my child to be happy if that’s what she’s seeing from me?

It takes energy, and lots of creativity, to redirect. But when I do it and I’m successful at it, I feel like a hero and my daughter is a happy camper.

So what lessons can you find in this to apply to your own life? There are a few that I’ve thought of for mine:

  • When we are saying “no” more than “yes” to the people in our lives, whether they are our family members, coworkers or employees, the relationship starts feeling very strained. It’s as if they have to guess what we want over and over again until we’re both feeling frustrated. In contrast, if we can find lots of things to say “yes” to, and actually help those in our lives find things that are productive and enjoyable, they feel acknowledged and appreciated–and we feel pretty gratified ourselves.
  • Although it does take energy and creativity to redirect, the reward is so worth it. We can cheer the other person on, and they learn over time the activities that are truly worth celebrating.
  • Not everything is as big a deal as it feels at the time. I often need to prioritize what I feel an urge to say “no” to, because sometimes it’s not that big of a deal. Some of the greatest learning / teaching opportunities happen when a child or employee tries something and it doesn’t go so well. Also, if I say no to everything, it’s not as likely that my charge will learn the critical “no”s.
  • When I’m feeling like life is saying “no” a lot to me, I can find my own joyful things to redirect to instead of allowing myself to become demoralized, discouraged, helpless and hopeless.

Let’s alleviate our own stress by finding much more to say “yes” to. The people in your life will be extremely grateful, as will your own heart and mind.

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