By Dana Gornall
My name is no
My sign is no
My number is no
You need to let it go
You need to let it go
Need to let it go
No, By Meghan Trainor
I’m a yes woman.
Many of you may have heard this as a phrase to describe a kind of guy that is a kiss-up at work—the type of person who agrees with whatever his boss says, just to get ahead. This is not what I mean by describing myself as a yes woman. What I mean is that I tend to go with the flow, not make waves and agree to help out even when I’m too tired or really don’t want to.
Saying no is simply not easy for me, whether that be ending a relationship, quitting a job or telling my child she can’t sleep over a friend’s house.
Does this make me weak? Maybe. Is it because I’m sometimes super sensitive? Probably. Could it be that I hate hurting other people’s feelings? More than likely. Do I have trouble standing up for myself? Absolutely.
This tendency is one of the traits I have had ever since I can remember and it’s something I have always struggled with. While being a yes woman has its good qualities, it also puts one in a position to be walked on as much as a $20 doormat from Target.
Both in Buddhism and in Yoga, practitioners are taught to not be one extreme or the other (The Middle Way), to be compassionate and kind to people, but also to be just as compassionate and kind to the self—yourself.
You have praised both renunciation
and the yoga of action, Krishna.
Tell me now: of these two,
which is the better path?
The Blessed Lord said:
Renunciation and yoga
both lead to the ultimate good;
but of the two paths, Arjuna,
yoga is the more direct.
The true renunciate neither
desires things nor avoids them;
indifferent to pleasure and pain,
he is easily freed from bondage.
~ Bhagavad Gita
While being of service and having a willingness to be truly present for others is an important trait to have not only for oneself but for others, it is a detriment to all involved if we lose ourselves in the process. I often find when I am stuck in the middle, unsure of saying yes or no, on the precipice of going forward or turning and moving on, my natural inclination is to avoid.
I avoid making the decision so I don’t have to move forward with the yes (unsure if that is what I want) or the no (don’t want to hurt anyone in the process and don’t want to let anyone down). I once told someone this and she made the wise remark that by not saying yes or no I was essentially making a decision then: to relinquish the power over to someone else so I didn’t have to do it. This really wasn’t any better for me.
I could say that society teaches young girls and women to be this way, and there is some truth to that. A strong man is often viewed as a leader and someone to be looked up to, while a strong woman is often seen as pushy and a bitch. These cultural beliefs reinforce the idea that women should go-along with crowd, go with flow, and has been imbedded into our society in advertisements, entertainment, social media.
The consequences of these viewpoints can splay as far and wide as women who have learned not to stand up for themselves in the workplace to being date-raped because they didn’t say NO soon enough or strongly enough (and unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t matter if they did).
Learning to use the word no is important.
Just like I can’t balance in revolved triangle if I don’t have my feet firmly planted on the ground and my hips level, I also cannot be of service to others if I don’t know how to take care of myself in the process. Because the trick to balancing is finding your core, focusing your eyes on one point, keeping a firm stance and then carefully and gently letting go.
Holding onto an idea just because we don’t want to just let it go—whether it be an idea of who we are or a career that no longer serves us—doesn’t help anyone, especially ourselves.
Driving back from a cheer competition a few weeks ago I hear my daughter and her friend singing from the back seat: My name is no, my sign is no, my number is no, you need to let it go. I glance up in the rearview mirror and see her laughing and singing, wagging her finger back and forth with the full-blown attitude of a strong, confident teenage girl.
I smile because I’m happy she is okay with no.
“Without firm foundations a house cannot stand. Without the practice of the principles of yama and niyama, which lay down firm foundations for building character, there cannot be integrated personality.”
~ BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga
Editor: Ty H. Phillips