Finding the answer between Yes and No

I don’t like saying “No” to a request. I don’t always like saying “Yes” either. But I do like to help, and I tend to reason that if I can do something, I should do it. Like the Optus commercials, I say “Yes” – a lot.

And once I’ve said “Yes” I’m committed. I need to follow through. I hate to let anyone down.

Yes and No

Photo Credit: photosan0 via Compfight cc

Here’s the thing with always saying “Yes.” I get really busy, I do more than I should, I end up doing a lot of things that other people should be doing, and the things that are really mine to do get pushed down the priority list.

Worse still I end up on the bottom of the priority list because I don’t look after myself.

Sooner or later, the smile fades, I get weary, stressed and resentful, and if I don’t do something to address it, I burn out. I know this because I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit.

Confession time. I am a serial offender when it comes to over-committing. I over-commit, over and over again.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

Friends, family and colleagues have told me that I need to learn to say “No.” And that’s true. At least some of the time.

However, for those of us who find saying “No” difficult – for all kinds of reasons – it doesn’t always feel like helpful advice. We may just nod our head in agreement, and then carry on saying “Yes” because it seems easier and we don’t feel so guilty. Because saying “No” can feel selfish, even when it’s the wisest, most loving thing we can do.

Sometimes I discover that I’ve said “Yes” before I’ve even realised the full extent of the request, or considered my existing commitments and priorities. And the number of times I’ve immediately dropped what I’m doing to help a colleague with a request are countless.

Yep, when it comes to changing habits, I’m definitely a slow learner.

Of course there are also plenty of occasions when it’s good and right to say “Yes.”

One thing I have learned recently though, is that “Yes” and “No” are not the only answers available. Sometimes the best answer lies in between “No” and “Yes.”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that, but here’s what I can do.”

In betweenPhoto Credit: Valerian Gaudeau via Compfight cc

I’ve discovered that sometimes when I need to say “No” to a request, it doesn’t always need to be a flat-out no. I may be able to do part of what’s been asked, or even offer a different solution.

And that can be just as well received as an unqualified “Yes.” That’s good news for someone who finds it hard to say “No.”

Are you wrestling with how to respond to a request? Perhaps your best answer is somewhere in between Yes and No.

Book Review: Half the Sky

Recently my sister lent me Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book is a compelling combination of commentary on global human rights issues such as sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence and maternal mortality, and the personal stories of some remarkable women.

Half The Sky

This is one of the most confronting and challenging books that I’ve read in a long time (possibly ever). The statistics and the stories are gut-wrenching. In the 21st century, in my comfortable, middle-class home, it seems almost impossible to comprehend the poverty, discrimination, oppression and violence that so many women and girls are still experiencing around the world. This book opened my eyes to a reality about which I’d been blissfully and conveniently ignorant. It’s easier to believe that you don’t need to do anything, if you don’t know what the issues are.

But this isn’t just a book condemning the oppression of women, it’s also a book filled with hope. Srey Rath in Cambodia escaped from the brothel she had been sold into and now runs a retail business to support her family. With some fundraising help from two women in America, Edna Adan built a maternity hospital on an abandoned dump site in Somaliland. These are just two examples of women who refused to give up, despite incredibly difficult circumstances. There are possibilities for change and transformation, and opportunities for anyone who wants to become part of a solution. As George Clooney is quoted, “It’s impossible to stand by and do nothing after reading Half the Sky.”

Will this book make you feel uncomfortable? Probably. Is this book worth reading? Absolutely. Can you help to change the world? Yes. That’s the message and the invitation. As the authors write in their Introduction, “This is a story of transformation. It is change that is already taking place, and change that can accelerate if you’ll just open your heart and join in.”

As for me? I’ve already started investigating some of the suggested options for getting involved. If you’ve read the book, I’d be interested in hearing how it’s impacted you.