Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Freedom of Choice

We like choice.  We like the ability to look at the array of garments on a rack, shoes on a display, toothpaste on a shelf, even auto insurance plans - and saying - "Yes...I choose this."  

Lately, I've been teaching myself about choice.  That may sound pretty silly.  Obviously I haven't lived this long or done what I've done in my life without making choices.  But I have to say I wasn't really taught how to choose.  It's been sort of hit or miss in my life.  Fortunately, I've had more hits than misses.  My guardian angel has definitely earned her wings.  And I think it's time I gave her a rest.

Growing up when I did, where I did with the parents I had, I basically learned two things.  Nice girls always say yes - this gets them loved and appreciated and desired.  And my world as a girl was basically flat - and going to the edge, especially going over the edge, was just not something you did.  

Let me explain here.  When I say that nice girls always say yes, the great unspoken NO was, of course, sex.  But THIS is easily explained.  Nice Girls only go with Nice Boys and Nice Boys would never ask a Nice Girl to cross that line.  So if you found yourself in that predicament, you were not with a Nice Boy and were playing around the edge of Nice Girl land.

First a bit about the edge of the world.  Falling off the edge isn't necessarily a bad thing.  You might fly.  And if you do fall, chances are there are some really great people where you land who will help you pick yourself up and show you around the new place you have landed in.  But this is where learning about Choice becomes really important.  If you land in a place that feels bad to you, it's good to know you have a choice about leaving there and you're not stuck for good. 

Learning to say NO, learning that I have the power, the freedom of CHOICE, that's been a real experience for me.  Some NOs are easier than others.  Some NOs are obvious.  But discovering the power of NO has made me a little crazy.  Sometimes I just say NO automatically...like a two year old that just learned the word.  And how do we teach a two year old to stop saying NO?  We teach them about making choices.  It's a long process to teach someone about choice, especially when we can see so clearly the right choice.  But making that choice for someone else, whether they are 2 or 12 or 22, teaches them nothing.  And so I have been learning about No. 

And a remarkable thing has happened.  Now that I know I can say No - and the world doesn't end and people still love me and I'm still a Nice Girl - it makes YES so much more meaningful.  More pleasurable.  More honest.  More confident.  More My Choice. 

So - as CSN say - teach your children well.  Teach them about Choice.  How to make them and how to use them wisely.  Teach them that if there is a YES, then there is also a NO.  Teach them about that edge - be the tree at the edge that will hold them up and let them fly.  Let them fall too.  Sometimes the best lessons are found in landing. 


Jenn said...

You are my hero right now, this post is going up on my virtual fridge, I must remind myself of this everyday. Thank you for such a well stated and perfect sentiment. No is good!

ginger said...

i tell people no all day long.

Cindy L. said...

I find because I say yes so much in my work life, no is almost automatic in my personal life. Except to chocolate.