I have a more or less clinical resistance to saying no to whatever people ask of me. In fact, even when I say no, people take it as a yes. For example, when I was nominated as the secretary of the middle school band boosters my response was, and I quote, “I respectfully decline the nomination.” Five minutes later I was voted in and two years later I’m still the secretary.
This all came to mind this afternoon, when Facebook popped up a memory for me from six years ago today, when I proudly announced that I said “No” to something. It was a big deal them. And apparently it has been six years since I said “”No” to anything.
I think many people – especially women – and more especially Moms – are guilty of this. We feel responsible for the world, somehow, and are egotistical enough to believe that if we personally don’t do what is asked of us, there is not one other human that is up to the task. The world will tilt on its axis, and possibly stop spinning altogether.
And so, cribbing from Alcoholics Anonymous, a program which has had huge success in helping people with alcohol addiction, I offer the 12 Steps of Yesaholics Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over saying yes – that our lives had become an unmanageable tangle of PTO fundraisers, scout meetings, and carpool lines.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves (specifically, the word “No”) could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the suckers who had not yet learned to say “No.”
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our stupid egos that make us think we are personally responsible for the success of every stupid little thing that comes along.
- We admitted to God, ourselves, and to every human being that will stand still long enough to listen the exact nature of our exhaustion borne of saying yes to every little stupid thing.
- We were entirely ready to have the word “No” remove our defects of character.
- We humbly say “No” and ask other people to do stuff instead of us. Or leave it undone. Not our problem anymore.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed by failing to meet deadlines or doing a half-witted job, and became willing to make amends to them.
- We made direct amends to such people, such as throwing money at the problem or buying store bought cupcakes, except when to do so would injure them or others. (I’m talking to you, Mom who insists on putting peanuts in the brownies even though we all know good and well there are three allergic kids in the class.)
- We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted we were fools for taking this on and delegated it to the next sucker.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the word “no,” praying only for knowledge of the healing powers of the Word and the power to actually say it out loud when someone asks us to do something.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to other Yesaholics, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.
One day at a time, my friends. It works if you work it. Fake it til you make it. It’s easy to talk the talk, but you have to walk the walk.
And I am walking the walk, my friends. Out the door, and shouting “No” at the top of my lungs.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was a number one Amazon Hot New Release in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.