Tag Archives: how to say no

The Dashboards of our Lives…

mini-one-862815_640My first car was a Toyota Corolla.

It was a faded gray and it had roll up windows, an AM radio and no AC. The heat worked sometimes.

The dash board had a gas gage and a speedometer.

A manual steering wheel was the driving mechanism.

I loved that car!

It took me on my first long trip from Ohio to New Jersey after Graduate school. There was enough space to stuff my meager belongings and drive off.

These days I still drive an import, just not a Japanese import.

My car has power windows, power steering, power adjusted seats that can be heated or cooled, a lumbar support that I cannot live without as well as a head support.

Air bags in the steering and the doors.

The dash board….

Well this is a thing of beauty.

I have a speedometer AND I can see a numerical display of my speed on the windshield.

The rest of the dash looks like I am in the cockpit of an aircraft.

I know when tire pressure is low. I know when there is a snail walking behind my car because of the rear camera. The car tells me when I am too close to objects in front and in back.

There are bells and whistles… Real bells and whistles that I have NO idea what they mean. I have to remember the sound and look up the sound in the 2000 page owners manual that came with the car.

I will NEVER understand this car! I won’t even try.

This car was the play thing of very inspired engineers and when the first one rolled off the line they all applauded and pretended that all the future buyers would give a damn about all the fancy schmansy stuff.

We buy the fancy cars and very few of us really give a damn about all the bells and whistles BUT we would never go back to the old car, like that first Corolla.

Yet, in our private lives, we keep using tools that are as outdated as that Corolla.

The tools we learned as a child to manipulate our parents, we try to use on lovers and partners.

The tools we learned in High School when we were first dating are the tools we insist on using in relationships that are way beyond the immaturity of High School.

We scream and pout as if we were teenagers and expect that people will just give up their positions to keep us quiet and happy.

We expect those tools to still manipulate like they did in the past.

We refuse to better equip ourselves to fully step into adult relationships.

What do I mean?

The tools I am talking about  are readily available in e-books, book stores and libraries. It’s the billion dollar industry of the Self Help Movement; while most of us have purchased self help books, how many PRACTICE the tools inside?

It’s the practice of new tools and skills that will get us away from the “outdated dashboard” we keep going back to so that we can install a newer updated version.

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.

I was never taught how to say No.

I was taught to be “nice” and say Yes to all that was asked of me and furthermore to be sure to do it with a smile on my face.

I did this for many years.

Almost killed myself doing this.

The few times I said NO to things, I did it with such anger and animosity that the people around me looked at me like a had two heads.

Like Medusa, if someone tried to get me to be reasonable, I felt like they were chopping off one of my heads and so two would grow in its place. The multiple headed monster was what I would become.

I stumbled upon the book The Power of a Positive No by William Ury quite a few years ago.

I read it, re-read it and read it again.

The simple tools for saying NO were right there.

But, would they actually work in real life?

How would I know unless  I practiced them?

I was at a small conference once where I told one of the participants about this book and how it changed my life and she said, “make it into a workshop. People, women need these tools and many won’t read the book. Give them a taste and then tell them to get the book and feast on it.”

Ok.

I called the workshop, “Not Your Mothers Assertiveness Training.”

I did the workshop.

A few paid to attend and the rest of the seats I gave away.

It was a hit.

People loved the work.

I encouraged them to buy the book and to inhale the wisdom inside.

I heard from them from time to time that they were indeed using the principles.

A few times when they called to complain that they were being forced to do one thing or another, I simply asked, “What’s your YES!” (read the book to understand this question)
They got it and did the required work to make the decisions that would work for them.

This book is a part of the Live A Brighter Life series of classes and I encourage you to get the recordings, listen and then get all the books and really do a deep dive into the tools. www.liveabrighterlife.org

We cannot keep going back to the outdated tools, the outdated dash board and expect that our modern lives be best served.

We must find the courage to learn new tools, practice them daily and install them on the dashboard of our beautiful new lives.

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Self Responsibility…….

sunset-401541_1280Self Responsibility… The “Philosophical Principle (that) entails ones acceptance of a profoundly moral idea. In taking responsibility for our own existence we implicitly recognize that other human beings are not our servants and do not exist for the satisfaction of our needs.”

The above quote is from the book Six Pillars of Self – Esteem by Nathaniel Branden.

Can you take some time to read the above sentence out loud, maybe more than once.

When I first came across this sentence in the book, I was stopped in my tracks.

If the above is true, and it is, then all of us who have been abused in one form or another would KNOW without the shadow of a doubt that we were wronged.

We would not have to ask others for their opinion of whether we were enough wronged as to take swift action and demand justice.

The married woman who is forced to be a servant to her husband and in-laws would know that she is not there for their implicit or explicit exploitation. She would know that she had the right to say an empowered NO.

If she could accept that she will not be made into an unpaid servant, how might she approach marriage differently? Might she ask the intended in-laws how they expect to treat her? Might she tell her future husband that she will not be forced into a life of servitude and sexual slavery?

I really have no answers to these broad issues but I do know that we must empower women BEFORE marriage to ask harder questions than “do you have a job and where will we live?”

The college woman who is gang raped would know that she needs to report the crime as often as she needs to until something is done. She would have to find the courage to stand against the friend circle who will most likely accuse her of being disloyal and being short sighted about her reputation.

Where did I get these examples of what the friend circle might say? It comes directly from the report of the gang rape at a frat house on the UVA campus.

The 18 year old woman was made to question her loyalties. She was made to stay silent about the horror that was done to her body and her mind by silently suffering.

If we could get women, especially High School and college women, to respect themselves as much as they respect what their friends say, we might be able to bring more rapists to face the music.

Please do not think that I am putting the burden of this whole thing on the shoulders of the survivor of the rape, I am not. I am, however, sure that taking responsibility for extracting justice for a crime that was done is one of the most powerful ways to begin the long and arduous process of healing.

We cannot expect society to change without each individual taking a stand for what is no longer acceptable.

This is how we got rid of slavery.

This is how women got the vote.

This is how dictators fall.

It is only speaking up, as often as we can, and as loudly as we can, that will bring change. It will still be slow, but we can never. ever give up.

Ever.

Love and light,

Indrani

To be assertive or to not be assertive…a task we face every day of our lives.

uWowpolSelf assertion is not aggression. It is not banging people over their heads and claiming that you are better than them.

It is also NOT accepting others views of you.

“Self -assertiveness means the willingness to stand up for myself to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters.”
Nathaniel Branden.

Let me tell you a story.

A few years ago a very dear friend of mine asked me to speak to his religious women’s group.

I knew that his faith did not allow women to see their priests for reasons I cannot fathom.

He knew what a strong and upfront woman I am and that I speak my truth.

I told him that I would gladly speak on any variety of topics BUT if it came up about their treatment of women with seeing priests that I would absolutely be truthful about how I felt.

He seemed to accept what I said and we agreed that he should get a different speaker.

However, his friend who had accompanied him to my home,  did not agree with me at all. In MY home he dared to challenge my point of view and was forcefully trying to make me agree with their views on women. I remained quite calm for about 15 minutes and then something happened.
I stood up and told him that this was my house and I was allowed my views in my house and he could not get me to change my mind.

I said we would have to agree to disagree.

He was shocked.

He was shocked because I DARED to stand and face him with conviction and clarity.

I am willing to bet money that NO woman had ever confronted him in his whole life and certainly no one had ever questioned his views on women in his faith.

He had never met a women who knew and understood her right to be assertive.

Nathaniel Branden tells us, “To practice self-assertiveness is to live authentically, to speak and act from my innermost convictions and feelings as a way of life – as a rule.”

Yes, this is what I did quite instinctively and with clarity of head and heart.

I am asking you, dear reader, to identify the areas of your life where conviction and clarity are lacking and to begin to take small steps to embolden your walk in your own life.

First you must talk the talk.
Then you must walk the walk.
Then you must encourage others to do the same.

Love and light,

Indrani

Self acceptance…and why it matters.

selfacceptanceIn the book The Six Pillars of Self Esteem, Nathaniel Branden tells us that “self acceptance is more primitive than self esteem. It is a per rational, per oral act of self affirmation.”

I think in the caveman days it served to say to the tribe that we, too deserve to eat at the fire, to have a place in the cave for shelter and we have a place at the fire for community and camaraderie.

In modern times this means that girls have the right to eat the same healthy food as her brothers and father. She has the same rights for schooling and she has the right to expect and demand that she and her body be respected.

The women in our colleges have the right to NOT be raped. Parents of boys should expect that their favorite sons will be held up to face the music if they violate a women. (See this article about a horrific rape at UVA.)

“Self acceptance is my refusal to be in an adversarial relationship to myself.”

“An attitude of basic self-acceptance is what an effective psychotherapist strives to awaken in a person of even the lowest self esteem. This attitude can inspire an individual to face whatever he or she needs to encounter within without collapsing into self hatred, repudiating the value of his or her person, or relinquishing the will to live. It entails the declaration : “I choose to value myself, to treat myself with respect, to stand up for my right to exist.” This primary act of self affirmation is the base on which self esteem develops.”

When we cannot dig deep enough to uncover this basic self acceptance, we fall prey to what others want to say and do to our minds and our bodies.

We must, at all costs, find the strength to face ourselves and to declare: “This is the day that I stand for ME.”

Will you practice standing up for yourself in small ways?

Maybe at the grocery store, or at the doctors office or perhaps with the your child’s teacher.

If you practice in small places, the larger places will not seem so very dire.

 

Love and light,

 

Indrani


P.S. Read The Six Pillars of Self -Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. It is worth every minute of your time.

LABL 002: Saying “No” – Say “Yes” to a New Way

Welcome to Episode #2 of the Live A Brighter Life Podcast!

In this episode of the Live A Brighter Life Podcast Indrani and Andrea discuss saying “No”. Specifically you will:

  • Learn to say “no” powerfully and positively
  • Create what you want
  • Protect what you value
  • Change what no longer works

Resources

The Power of a Positive No by William Ury

Podcast Recording

The ART of saying a Powerful NO!

**Psst.. Did you know you can highlight any sentence in this post to automatically share it via Twitter or Facebook? Go ahead, give it a try!**

 

Photo Credit: horiavarlan/Flickr

Photo Credit: horiavarlan/Flickr

When a dear friend ASKS you for a favor and you are in a state of exhaustion can you say NO without guilt?

When a family member yells and screams at you about something and you feel attacked can you say “I will not respond to yelling or screaming, so we can talk when you have calmed down” without feeling scared or guilty?

When people disrespect others in your presence, are you able to stand up for what is right?

There is a good chance that you either said a quick NO to the above questions or an “Of course” but if I were to ask you for examples where you were proactive and said NO to bad behaviors, you would have a hard time coming up with examples with close friends and family.

You may be better able to do it with strangers and people for whom you care very little.

Standing up for what we believe is right is not something that we are taught.

We are often taught to not rock the boat and therefore the people behaving badly get away with their nasty behavior.

A long time ago when my son was in 1st grade, about 6 years old, I took him out of school early one day for a “mental health day” and we went to get ice cream.

He ordered his ice cream and we were sitting there talking about his latest Lego creation and he was deciding what he would build next when the following happened.

A group of three boys about 10 or 11 years old came into the store and two of the boys ordered their ice creams while the third boy just stood there.

The two who ordered were making fun of the boy who had no money.

The boys took their ice cream, laughed at the one without and proceeded to go outside.

I then got up and told the ice cream-less boy to order WHATEVER he wanted. He looked at me and said, “Really lady?”

I said “Yep … make it an order bigger than your friends.”

I kind of made him order five scoops. He was grinning so big I thought he would burst. His friends came rushing in to tell ME that it was not fair.

I asked them why it was not fair. They said that they only had 2 scoops. I then asked why it was fair that they did not share their ice cream with their friend who had no money.

They looked shocked that I would bring that up.

The other boy said that he would go home to bring money for me and I asked him to go home and hug his mom and tell her he loved her and for me, he should try to always be kind to others. He left happy, the other two…not so much.

What was my little son doing this whole time?

He was eating his ice cream and looked up and said, “What took you so long mom?”

I smiled and said that I was giving the boys a chance to be kind. He shrugged and asked could he have as many scoops as the other fella got.

That night there were two very happy boys in Kingwood, TX, one in my house and one in another house, telling his Mom about his adventures.

I said NO to unfair treatment of a child. I said YES to kindness and I showed my son that day what it means to step up and right a wrong.

How will you say NO to unfair treatment?

What will you teach your children?

How will you stand up to bullying in and out of the family?

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Let’s be as strong as TRUE vegetarians when it comes to not accepting violence….

gallery_big_saying_no_to_junk_foodI have known quite a few devoted vegetarians. Not the sort who one day decided to not eat red meat but still eat fish or the sort that only eats chicken.

I am talking about the real McCoy’s!

They have NEVER ingested any flesh of any kind in their lives!

It may be for religious reasons, cultural reasons or just because they were brought up that way and now it’s a real choice.

IF you try to entice one of the TRUE vegetarians to “just take a bite” they will look at you as if you have two heads. THEY would never even consider that they should follow your advice.

The WHOLE rest of the world could be consuming meat but they will still honor their beliefs. I have seen true vegetarians settle for just plain rice to avoid the chance of a mishap.

I would like to invite everyone, the whole world, to NOT accept Gender Violence with the same unwavering convictions as the vegetarians exhibit when offered meat.

Let’s speak up and say NO.

Let’s stick to our morals around gender violence and try to convince others about the beauty of a non-violent world.

Let’s not waiver if “maybe it’s right sometimes” or not. Let’s know it is never right. NEVER.

Even if a culture says it’s ok for a father to kill a girl for bringing shame on a family. It is still not right.

Even if a culture agrees that a woman must “obey” and she is found wavering in the obedience department, it is still not right.

It is NEVER right.

NEVER!

Love and light,
Indrani

Counteracting the internal predator…being supportive to self.

70620889.Y2hPFqyeWe all have internal voices that regale us with how many things we do wrong.

This voice seems to take great pleasure in rendering us helpless in the face of challenge.

It happily reminds us about all the things we failed to finish. It shifts and disrupts the ground from under our feet with all the things we can’t do.

If we believe these internal onslaughts, we remain tightly wrapped and bound by our failures instead of being able to open up those failures and glean the lessons in each.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women Who Run with Wolves tells us we can “dismantle the assaults of the natural predator by taking to heart and working with what is truthful in what the predator says and discarding the rest.”

If my internal predator says “you are so wasteful, you have so much fabric and never finish any quilts”…I can calmly tell myself that I have made and finished more that 12 quilts and each child has at least two quilts handmade completely by me.

This example is quite tame. It can happen, however that my internal predator can tell me something like:

“Oh, so you think you are so special and want to end Gender Violence? Well missy….YOU have been yelling at people all your life. You even yelled at someone last week! Who are you to think you can do this?”

I will then have to have the presence of mind to remind myself that I am human and while I still do yell, I am trying to stay calm in situations and to treat others as I want to treat myself.

If I can do these exercises with my OWN internal predator, then I have a fighting chance to speak MY truth in the face of an external predator.  The person who wants to abuse me physically, emotionally or verbally is an example of an external predator, whereas, an internal predator is the negative voice that tries to bring me down.

The external predators can do serious damage to my psyche and if I do not develop the internal muscles against my internal predators then I have very little chance of standing up to external predators.

Estes tells us that we can “dismantle our predator by maintaining our intuitions and instincts and by resisting the predator’s seductions.”

How do you hone your instincts when the world is ready to tell you that what you feel is false and that your instincts are stupid?

The only answer is that YOU must believe in YOU!

You have to be courageous enough to know that you have deep understandings about life.

You can sit in prayer or mediation and recall times in your life when you did listen to your instincts and were happy because you did.

Like any skill, listening to your instincts is a muscle you must build up.

You must have patience, and practice on little things.

For example, if someone asks you to do something, instead of answering from your head, take a few minutes to notice the way your body is reacting to the request.

Do you feel happy and joyful, or heavy and dark when you think of the request?

Only you will be able to read the signs that your body give you.

Then, you have to be courageous enough to follow your natural instincts.

This may mean that you have to say NO to things you used to say YES to.

I know someone who recently told her boyfriend that she would no longer take part in orgy sex. She was very scared to do it and felt he would leave her if she refused. Whenever she had done it in the past, she felt dirty and less worthy but he always told her that she was the prettiest one in the room. She so badly wanted to hold on to him, she continued with behaviors that left her feeling empty and nauseous.

When she finally decided to stop the orgy sex, she delivered her decision and he promptly left her. He found someone who would do exactly what he told her to do.

It took her a while to recover but now she is happy that she found the courage to end that part of her life.

She had to get used to a new normal. A life without big lavish parties…but now she has her life and her body and self worth.

When you decide to counteract the internal predator it will mean that you must get used to a new normal.

Give yourself time to craft the new way.

Give yourself a pat on the back every time you kick the internal predator to the curb.
Love and light,
Indrani

Setting boundaries and saying NO…..

stand-up-for-yourselfThere is a reason why the first two sessions of the Live A Brighter Life Empowerment Program for Living teaches the importance and power behind setting boundaries and saying no.

Learning and implementing these two principles can and will change your life! And we are not the only ones who think so….check out this article from The Wall Street Journal to learns ways to say “No” more effectively.

If you would like to learn how to set boundaries and how to say “no”, please register for Live A Brighter Life to receive 6 session recordings…it’s absolutely free!

 

Love & light,

Team ILF

Some suitcases look just like yours….

please check luggage carefully…and some lives look just like what you thought you wanted. Open carefully and give back when necessary.

Recently, on a domestic trip, I grabbed the wrong suitcase from the luggage carousel and went to my hotel room.
The suitcase looked exactly like mine until I gave a closer look.

When I tried to open it, I saw that a zip tie had been used to secure the zippers.
Odd, I thought, but I just called down to Guest Services and they sent someone with a pair of scissors.

When the hotel staff member arrived he offered to also cut off the luggage tag and I told him, “Sure, go ahead.” How nice of him.

So now, I did not have the tag to check the name on the suitcase.

I laid the suitcase on the floor and then saw the “heavy” tag which, again, I thought was odd….I did not think it was that heavy. Perhaps I am just really strong!

Then I saw that the outer lining that protected the zipper was torn but I knew that my lining was perfect when I left home.

I opened the suitcase, MY suitcase, and WHOA……
A man’s belt and men’s shoes.
I slammed the suitcase SHUT and immediately called the airline.
I admitted my error, jumped into a taxi and WHEW, my suitcase was patiently waiting and I made the exchange.

The only question I asked was this, “Was the owner of this bag coming home? Did he at least get to go to a home stocked with lots of extra clothes?” She said, “Yes, this is home for him.” The airline person DID NOT even ask for my ID! It was clear to her from the whole story that the suitcase was indeed mine!

How can I turn this into a life lesson?

It took a night’s sleep for the lesson to form. Here goes!
Suppose that the suitcase represented a LIFE that I knowingly signed up for.
So let’s suppose marriage and being a married woman was the lot that was chosen.
How would I know IF the type of marriage (suitcase) was the kind that I signed up for?
I would have to live with the marriage for a while and see how it suited my values and desires.
I would do my best and be my best and respect my husband as I would hope he would respect me.

Suppose that I began to see signs of “Umm, this seems ODD.”
Much like the few times I thought ODD when I further inspected the luggage that was not mine.
I might begin to see that the “fabric” of my soul was being torn and ripped; much like the lining of the bag that I noticed was torn.
I might say, “Whoa, I came into this union whole and complete with good values and morals but now I see things that I did not see before.”
Perhaps, my spouse begins to cheat and get drunk and come home being belligerent. Perhaps, I keep making excuses and deny what I am seeing….a sign that things need to be addressed.

Next, I might be told that “women in this family do not __________.” This could be anything from talking to people outside the family or having to wear certain clothing, to not even showing your face when visitors arrive at your home.

I may continue to think… ODD, this is not the kind of restricted life for which I entered into legal contract!
Like the zip tie that I saw on the zippers that I did not put there, I may have again, not paid in depth attention to the first signs of a shrinking and bound life.

How about the “Heavy” sticker that I saw on the suitcase that was not mine? I may not realize that my feelings of self worth seem to be gone and my heart is heavy with grief. I may again, decide to ignore the signs that things are not what I want for my life.

Until, I take the time to actually OPEN the marriage and LOOK inside, I may NOT realize that what I am seeing is NOT what I want to have in my life.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes in “Women Who Run with Wolves” tells us that women who must break from a life that is not what they envisioned must “be able to see and STAND what they see.”

Able to See and Stand what you see!

What a powerful thought.

As far as the suitcase goes, I saw and I clearly understood that IT was not mine and I returned it.

In an abusive marriage, the woman MUST be able to open up her eyes and SEE very clearly that THIS ABUSE is NOT what she had agreed to and that she has been fooled.

Can she STAND to see the truth to save herself?

Please do not think that I am equating an abusive marriage with as simple a thing as a suitcase, I am not. I am only trying to tell you a story that would open up a few new windows in your soul, should you have to make a hard decision about your marriage or any relationship.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes also tells us that a woman MUST be able to answer a few questions and be ok with the responses.
One of these questions is, “What do I know deep in my ovarios that I wished I did not know?”
She refers to ovarios as the mythological part of the women that carries deep wisdom, where the seeds of knowledge are stored.

Life is not as easy as returning a suitcase that belongs to someone else.
It does not have to be as horrific as living with an abuser or predator either.
The choice is that of the one being abused.
The abused MUST be able to stand what she is seeing and make plans to save her life.
The abuser is NOT the one with the internal power.
The ABUSED has the internal power and she has to be willing to look into the darkness and see what only SHE can see.

Be brave and be strong and ASK for help.
Love and light,
Indrani