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why, how and when to say “yes,” or “no”

By February 22, 2011June 30th, 2017Blog post

I was taking a photography class at the local JC. I saw a guy my age (mid-life) bounding up the stairs with great enthusiasm and energy. I thought, “Wow. That is unusual. Just look at his energy level!”

I went on to my class and thought no more about it until that night in bed. I remembered that scene and realized it was not unusual. It had only become an unusual sight for me in my life at that time. That was a sobering thought.

I was recovering from chronic illness and was working in a clinic that specialized in treating patients with chronic illness. I did not have the energy to get out in public often, other than work. My energy was being drained by my constant exposure to a certain type of person more than any other. The idea that people are ill and have low energy was continually being reinforced by what I observed day in and day out. I needed to get out of there! I needed a new model of health for myself!

It took me a while to untangle myself from the situation, but I was definitely ready for a serious change and I knew it. It was a matter of life and death for me.

That same situation would not affect everyone the same as it did me. We cannot compare our own inner reactions or responses to that of others. (Comparison in and of itself is draining!) We must listen to our intuition and our hearts to know what serves us and what does not serve us.

You can be sure if it is not serving you, in the long run it is not serving anyone else either.

Take a few moments now, or as soon as you can to do this exercise. Get out your journal or some paper. Sit quietly for a few minutes, letting your mind and body relax as much as possible.

Write down these questions: What and/or who in my life right now is draining my physical energy? What and/or who in my life gives me energy, or fuels me physically?

photo by Carolyn Ringo

Write free form without worrying about sentence structure or even making sense to anyone but you. (You may want to plan to destroy this paper when you are finished if you fear someone may read it that you do not want to read it. This will make it easier for you to let yourself think freely.)

Go back into a quiet state for a while with your eyes closed to feel into these questions more deeply.

When you have exhausted the questions about your physical energy, write down these questions: What and/or who in my life right now is draining my mental energy? What and/or who in my life gives me energy, or fuels me mentally?

Next ask the same questions focusing on your emotional energy. And lastly focus on your spiritual energy.

There will be lots of crossovers, but don’t get hung up on what area these drains or energizers fit into. Just let yourself become aware of them. And know that some of them may be your own thoughts and actions.

By using your heart as your compass (#3), you can see more clearly which direction to go to stop self-defeating behavior. If you take just one mental or emotional habit that really bothers or drains you and apply heart intelligence to it, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your life. Doc Childre and Howard Martin of Heart Math

Certainly this is not about blaming yourself or anyone else
. It is about taking responsibility and making changes. If you want your life to be fulfilling and you want to be able to do the work you were meant to do, you must fill your own gas tank first or, at some point you will not have the vitality to do anything. Frustration, burnout, and maybe even illness will overtake your life if you have let your tank run too low for too long!

If you feel comfortable doing so, keep your notes handy for a few days. Undoubtedly you will come up with more to put on the lists.

Okay, now you’ve done the exercise. You may be painfully aware of what needs to change in your life to enhance your energy and vitality and de-stress. And so? The answer to what you are going to do about it lies within you. Some changes will only take days, some weeks, some a lifetime of practice. One thing I know for certain is that if you do not deeply want to change, you will not. You will need to think on it, plan for it, and once you take action, stick to it. You may need to see a therapist, hire a life coach, or talk to a trusted friend.

When you need to say, “No, thank you,” you do not need to explain yourself. If you feel you must at first, you can say you have previous commitments. So what if the commitment is to yourself for some time alone. And as you carve out a little quiet time, the things you can do that refuel you will become more clear.

For everything you say yes to in your life, you must say no to something else.
Be prepared for old habits to die away and make sure not to replace them with new habits that have the same negative effect. You may choose to let some relationships go, and deepen other relationships. You may find that something you thought was only a hobby becomes something you can make money doing. Be open to the possibilities.

One’s legacy is what they have given their life energy to.

This is not an easy exercise to follow through with, but your efforts will pay off in spades. You will certainly have more energy and you will be less stressed. Being grateful for all that you uncover, both draining and life affirming will help you move forward. All that is in our lives can teach us if we stay curious without making assumptions. In other words you do not need to make judgments of good or bad, simply learn to be powerfully discerning – for the sake of your life!


Carolyn Ringo

Author Carolyn Ringo

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