Curiosity and the Sacred No

Hello Beautiful Being!

First of all, I want to welcome all the new people who have recently joined this growing community. Whether you came as a result of MOJO or because Amy Ahlers shared my LOTUS Wisdom ebook with you or because you saw one of my posts on Facebook, it warms my heart to have you here and I’m grateful that you said YES when you did.

It has finally stopped raining here in Northern California and I feel myself slowly emerging from the cocoon I retreat to during the quiet dark of winter.

As many of you know, after almost two years without another beating heart in my house, I brought two kittens home in late October. Having sisters Ginger and Molly around this winter has been a joy. They make me laugh out loud as they go crazy chasing their own tails (and each others), swatting at their own reflections in the mirror and playing soccer with anything they can find!

Most of all, though, I love watching how curious kittens are about everything. From the washing machine to the toilet to the rain falling outside, they check out everything. The other day Molly (the one in the photo) even crawled inside the dishwasher!

What if… we got curious the way young children and kittens do?

What if… instead of reacting to our feelings, we got curious instead?

What if… we followed the “why” thread to the source of our feelings and then RESPONDED to the situation instead of reacting?

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. I hate to disappoint other people. So more often than not, when someone asks for help, I will do whatever I can – even if doing so means I sacrifice my own well-being.

I don’t like doing this though, so I try to figure out what’s really going on.

I go within and ask “why?” three times, which usually gets me to the source.

WHY do I say yes when I really want to say no? Because I don’t like disappointing people.

WHY don’t I like disappointing people? Because I’m scared if I disappoint them, they won’t like me anymore.

WHY do I want them to like me? So I will feel like I belong.

Ahhhh…there’s the source. If I don’t keep everybody happy, I won’t have a place. I won’t belong. 

And then I ask myself – what’s the truth about belonging?

Here’s what I know for sure: Each of has a place that is uniquely our own.

Imagine a giant circle of people. As you look around, there are empty spaces. One of those spaces has your name on it. If you don’t step into that place, no one else will. (I say that with love, not guilt. lol)

Belonging in this sense is our birthright. It’s not a game of “Mother May I?” You don’t need anyone’s permission to take your place. Nor is it a game of “Musical Chairs.” There are enough spaces for everyone. No need to compete.

If you are here, you belong. Period. 

If I belong no matter what, does that change my response to a request for help? Again, I get curious. Only this time, I use a different tool.

My friend and minister at the Center for Spiritual Living Davis, Rev. Sara Nichols, teaches a simple process that provides structure for my curiosity. She calls it “The Gates of The Sacred No.” It’s a wonderful self-care tool, because it helps me clarify what is mine to do and what is not.

Here’s how it works. When someone asks for help – in any context –  get curious. Ask the following questions:

1. Does this need to be done?

2. Does this need to be done now?

3. Does this need to be done by me?

4. Can I do this with JOY?

If the answers are all YES, go for it!

If the answer to any of these is “no,” breathe… and then respond: “I’m sorry, I can’t help with that today.” Then. Stop. Talking. Be. Silent. Allow the other person to respond. Don’t try to fill the space. You don’t need to explain your decision.

Don’t get me wrong. I practice doing this. I am not an expert. I often slip up and start explaining why I can’t help. And if I’m honest with myself, explaining under these circumstances is really just an attempt to get the other person to agree with me. But validating my decision is not their job. They get to be disappointed. I get to feel awkward and uncomfortable for a few minutes. And my momentary discomfort is way better than the resentment I’ll feel for us both, if I say yes when I really mean no. (Brene Brown is great on this topic! She teaches us to ask “resentment? Or disappointment?” 3 times and then respond.)

So let’s be like kittens and get curious! Use the LOTUS Wisdom* process to check-in with yourself before you act. Instead of judging or ignoring your own feelings, ask your heart why you feel the way you do. Keep asking why until you get to the source. Then ask: “what’s the truth?” Trust the answer.

Once you’re clear on what’s really going on, use the 4 step Sacred No process to inform your choice. Then, speak your truth.

With love and deep gratitude,

*If you don’t know what LOTUS Wisdom is, please go here to get your free copy of my ebook that explains it all.

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