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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where saying “no” to someone was actually a positive thing to do? It can be a way of declining a suggestion you may not want to experience. This, of course, can be done in various ways and intonations, depending on how much you feel you’re being pushed into something or who is involved. However, a Positive No has its own unique sound.

A Positive No comes first from Love. This can be Love for oneself, a conscious form of self-care. For example, you might decide not to participate in an activity with friends because you really need rest from a busy day or week. It can be Love for the safety of another, such as shouting a commanding “NO!” to a child wandering too close to a busy street.

A Positive No can also be utilized when you’re setting boundaries with others who have been used to getting only a “yes” from you in the past. It can be particularly difficult to say “no” to one’s children at times; especially when their circumstances are dire and help is limited. However, continuing to do (whatever) for anyone when they could and should do it for themselves becomes an enabling pattern that cripples everyone in the relationship. It becomes a hard habit to break, resentments build, self-esteem suffers, and relationships wither.

Someone needs to take the first step. In such a situation either person can make the change … the one who has been repeatedly asking for help or the person providing the help. It only takes one person with the awareness to see the cycle appearing again, and then having the courage to take action – in a loving manner – so that both parties can become disentangled from each other and begin the steps toward a mutually respectful relationship. The goal is to create an independent or interdependent, loving connection …rather than one of co-dependence and suffocation.

I now find myself – as one of thousands (maybe millions) of other Baby Boomers do – sandwiched between caring for aging parents in some way, as well trying to help out adult children and perhaps grandchildren. I question myself as to whether a situation really calls for me to participate and what my motive is when I choose to…or not.  There are sure to be some situations when the reason is not so clearly defined and others when there is no doubt at all what I must do. In each instance, I have the option to say “yes” or “no.”

I keep in mind a lesson taught to me on my first airline flight 25 years ago:  I must put on my oxygen mask first BEFORE I can help anyone else, including my child. If I can’t breathe or survive, I won’t be able to help them. I once heard motivational speaker Jim Rohn say, “The best thing you can do for the poor is not become one.” Sometimes that means making the difficult decision to decline a loved one’s request for help, especially if it puts you at great risk in some way…financially, emotionally, physically, etc. The ideal, of course, is a mutually beneficial arrangement – where everyone shares in the risk and success …where everyone grows from the experience.

I must remember to ALWAYS come from a place of Love…not from fear or anger or guilt…or even a self-imposed obligation. My heart and mind will know whether I am doing a service or an injustice. As long as I listen to the still small voice of the Divine Presence, I will be rightly guided. As long as I heed God’s direction and not ego’s, even a “no” can be a “yes” for the Highest Good of all involved.  And so it is.

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