Saying “No” ….. and “Yes”


Why is it so easy for my two-year-old to say “No,” and so hard for me and for many women and men I know? It all came to a head this week when I tried to shoe-horn in a fourth nighttime commitment into a busy week, and my husband gently suggested I might have to say “No” to something. I squirmed and quivered and screwed up my courage and said “No” to working on something that I thought I should do that was interesting and compelling, and to which I could have made a valuable contribution, but which would have meant an unknown ongoing amount of work. And guess what?!

The world did not stop turning, my colleagues supported and understood my decision, and the committee met without me and made some great decisions. It’s almost embarrassing how un-essential to the project I was. What a relief! Because what any two-year-old knows is that saying “No” can be a incredibly liberating. It can be a powerful assertion of self, of choice. For me this week, saying “No” felt like a big “Yes” to my family, to my husband, to my own desires, and to sustainability. So I am looking forward to getting in touch with that inner toddler and saying “No” again. I promise there won’t be any tantrums …..