My mornings, at least most of my mornings, start with meditation. I do it right after I pour my coffee and before I do anything productive (except Tuesdays and Thursdays, which start at OMG o’clock for Bootcamp). Right now, I’m doing a Headspace meditation series that involves a technique called noting. It’s a tool to teach you discernment, which is a core value of being an evolved human.
Without discernment, we revert to our base self, reacting to stimulus instead of responding. That reaction place can be dangerous. Reacting leads to nasty words we can’t take back, road rage incidents, saying “Yes” when we really mean “No” and photos or video posted on social media, capturing our worst moments forever.
Reacting mostly happens when we are tired or under stress. Without discernment, we see a threat around every corner. You know when you were a kid and you mistook a coat hanging on a door for a monster coming to eat you (maybe this was just me)? Then you took out your under-the-covers reading flashlight (just me again?), pointed it at the closet and felt silly when it was just a coat. The crucial step in that scenario is taking the time to investigate the threat to determine whether or not you NEED to respond.
Noting is that pause. In my current meditation series, I’m breathing and focusing on only the breath. When I get distracted, I pause to note whether the distraction is a thought or a feeling. I respond by saying, “Thinking” or “Feeling” in my head and then return to the breath. No judgement that I’m doing meditation wrong. No knee-jerk frustration. Just noting and returning to the task at hand.
If you want to try it for yourself, download the Headspace App. I love Andy’s (yes we are on a first name basis) adorable British accent, and there are meditations to choose from that are 1-60 minutes long. Give responding a try and tell me all about the results at email@example.com. Imagine a world where we all responded thoughtfully instead of reacting impulsively. I want to live in that world!
Sitting in discomfort is the first step to change. We think that if we want to try something new, we set a goal and then proceed calmly toward it—not so much.
Change happens at the very end of your comfort zone.
This also goes for resilience. I keep telling our volleyball players that it’s okay to push your limits and make mistakes. Failure is where you learn what NOT to do next time. If we can sit in the discomfort of things going not according to plan, then, in that moment, we can devise a different plan made up of the lessons that failure has just served up to us. If you’re not willing to sit in discomfort, you never reach resilience—they go hand in hand.
My girls used to complain that it was HARD to go outside their comfort zone, because that’s where unfair things happen. If they tried out for a team or a play that involved doing something new, and then they didn’t make it, they would cry that it was unfair. To which I replied, “Honey, life is unfair sometimes; that’s just how life is.” This made me hugely popular—not. I would get huffs and eye rolls, and I would take deep breaths until the crisis passed.
I feel our job as parents and awakened humans is to speak the truth, even when it’s not exactly what our family/co-workers/friends want to hear. This will not make us popular sometimes, and that will feel uncomfortable. That place of discomfort is exactly what growth feels like. So, don’t avoid the discomfort, because growth is just on the other side. In order to get better, things might get worse for awhile. Just breathe through it and have faith. The resulting resilience is SO worth it!
As parents, we are programmed to say “Yes.” If one of our family members or a friend really needs help, I can get behind that. It’s the “Yes” that comes from a martyr habit or the need to control a situation, rather than a real desire to help, that disturbs me. These are the BS answers that leave us feeling drained. This is the “Yes” that could, and should, be a compassionate “No,” if we believed in the value of our time. Saying “Yes” to something that feels like an obligation is actually saying “No” to something that is infinitely more valuable—time for yourself.
If you take all items off your to-do list that you make out of habit, what you’re left with is choice. You may think that you HAVE to do a bunch of stuff, but it’s your time, nobody else’s. I can hear your eyes rolling at me, and that’s understandable. We are in the habit of making endless excuses/reasons for why someone else’s needs are more important than our own. I understand the habit; I just don’t do it that way anymore.
So, how do you learn the “Compassionate No?”
It’s simple, not easy, but simple. If someone calls you for a gift of your money or time that you don’t choose to give, the answer is: “I’m sorry that doesn’t fit into my schedule/ budget /family plan right now, but thanks so much for thinking of me.” The “Compassionate No” may not be easy, but it’s a helluva lot better than a resentful “Yes” that makes both parties feel a little dirty.
It will take practice, so start today. Where can we use the “Compassionate No” in order to say “Yes” to something more meaningful that makes us feel powerful? Sit down with your to-do list and start chopping, people! For a TO-DO list with a twist click below to download my Energy Worthy Worksheet.
If you need any help with this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just bend my ear at the front desk.