Monday, January 21, 2008

'No' is always a loss

I listened to a tele-seminar with Pam Leo today. She made such a simple, yet deeply profound, statement: 'No' is always a loss.

It nearly gave me shivers as I sat absorbing the sentiment. I've always been afraid of asking for things, afraid of that no. It prevented me not just from asking my parents for something ($3 for the Barbie townhouse at a school rummage sale or to go halvsies on a trip to Europe in high school- which my sister asked for and got! *) but also from asking a salesperson if they have an item in my size, where the bathrooms are, or asking the librarian where to find a certain book. Thankfully I've pushed past a lot of this, and forced myself to ask for books or where the bathroom is. But I'm still so afraid of 'no' that there are times I give in to the resistance that wells up in me, and walk away without that new pair of shorts.

Pam Leo's philosophy is that we (in the US anyhow) spend so much time telling children that their feelings are wrong. Acknowledging feelings doesn't mean that we need to give in to a child's every whim. Acknowledging feelings means that we can empathize with them over their grief at hearing 'No.' I know how much my parents love me, and I think I came from a very loving family. Yet, we did have some trouble with emotions. And I don't think mine were recognized, not even when it should have been apparent to my parents that something was wrong/not right (hello anxiety!). I know I was often told "Oh, stop it, it's not that bad" and other similar things. My feelings weren't heard. My little griefs weren't acknowledged. I am finding myself getting twisted up in my words-I'm not trying to lay blame at my parent's feet. I'm not trying to say "Oh, poor me." I'm not sure if I can reclaim that moment of clarity I felt when I heard her say "'No' is always a loss."

*I hold no resentment against my sister for asking to go to Italy with Mrs.Percoco. Heck, she asked, and she received. I never even mentioned it at home, I mean, the answer was going to be no, right? I remember so clearly, that day in the car with my mom, when she asked me why I never asked to go on a trip with Mrs.P and Latin class. I sucked my breath in, tried not to cry. I couldn't believe it would have been possible.


bipolarlawyercook said...

I'm glad you have gotten to a place where you know that there are people who will always say "Yes," or "Let's figure it out together."

Yes, my friend, yes.

Michelle said...

One of my mottos for the year is YES, along with patience, and gym.

Camellia said...

Who said: the answer is always no if you don't ask.

What that person didn't say is how much courage it sometimes takes to ask.

Live bravely.

Robot Dancers said...

I completely understood this post.
It takes a lot for me to ask kfor something but I too just push past that. It's still hard though.

Angelina said...

This is similar to my fear of any situation that may involve conflict, I will do a lot to avoid it. Saying no to others often causes me great fear, partly because it can create a conflict situation. Like you I was often afraid to ask for things because of a fear of hearing "no".

Boy, one can get pretty tangled up in the power of "no".

adena said...

I try so hard to validate my son's feelings, even if I don't agree with them. It's amazing how saying "oh, I'm so sorry, I see that you're sad about that" really helps, and moves us forward, instead of saying "that's no big deal, why are you so upset? get over it!" like my folks used to. we can change a generation....