What happens when someone says no to something you ask of them? It might depend on the nature of the relationship, the request you are making, how important it is that they say yes and even more crucial, what expectations you are setting up around their answer. In 2006, I became a certified facilitator for a workshop called Cuddle Party. It focuses on communication, boundary setting and safe, nurturing, non-sexual touch, with verbal consent. In it, we teach people to say yes to what they want, no to what they don’t want, with full permission to change their minds, not only about touch, but every aspect of their lives. Even knowing all of this, even teaching and counseling people about acceptance and perceived rejection, it is still a growing edge for me. Like most people, I would much rather receive a resounding yes to everything I ask for, and like most people, I have to listen to the wise words of the sage Mick Jagger “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” I have always received what is for my Highest Good, even if my ego was twitching a bit about hearing that two letter word that really is a complete sentence. It’s then that I also recall that I have said no to people’s requests, not because I didn’t care about them or because I didn’t want to do it (well….some of the time), but because (in computer terms), I didn’t have the bandwidth to accommodate them. Someone I treasure recently asked me if I would do something that normally a professional in the field would be paid to do. I lovingly turned down the request and suggested an alternative. She thanked me for my honesty and found what she needed elsewhere.
Throughout my life, I have made hearing no mean all kinds of nasty and obnoxious things…such as “They don’t really love you.” “They expect that you will do what they want, but they feel no desire or need to do what you want.” “You’re asking too much of them.” I have often only asked people for what I thought they would say yes to, rather than what I really wanted, knowing that they had the right to say whatever they chose.
Lately, I have noticed an increasing ability to accept someone declining my requests as simply having them exercise that right. Today, it occurred to me that hearing no is not a rejection, but rather a re-direction. I’m simply walking down another street. Perhaps what awaits around the corner is even better than I imagined. Eager to find out!