The Ability to Say No (Especially to Yourself)

More often than not, I need to remind myself that stuff is just stuff—impermanent, dime-a-dozen, usually plastic Stuff.

It takes effort to say “no” to the stuff that threatens to overtake your life. It takes effort to recognize it for what it is and remove it. But it’s worth the effort when you realize that the alternative is living with it, letting it cloud your life so much that you find yourself spending listless days moving it around, wondering where to start.

Well, it starts with a single word: “no.”

Is this what I want my life to look like? No.

Is this lifestyle of buying and consuming what I want to teach my children? No.

Is this something I need, or even want? No, it usually isn’t.

And gradually, the “no” becomes a symbol of delayed gratification.

Do I want to buy this now, and have no money later? No.

Is this item more important than the larger item I’m saving up for? Again, usually not.

Do I want to teach my children (and myself!) that instant gratification is more important? No.

We’re going to Seattle this week. It’s a trip we should have made a long time ago, but things always seemed to get in the way. Now, we are finally doing it, and I’m not going to let myself be the reason we can’t go. Travis’s favorite tagline has become, “Sure, honey, you can buy whatever you want, it just has to come out of your Seattle money.” That always makes me hesitate.

It’s been difficult. I’ve said it before, I started simplifying because buying and consuming come naturally to me; self-denial and delayed gratification do not. Then I think how disappointed I would be, how much I would regret my thoughtless purchases, if it meant we couldn’t go on our trip.

I’m convinced that saying “no” to ourselves is one of the hardest but best things we will learn in this life. It allows room for all the truly important things, and weeds out the unimportant ones.

P.S. July is No Spend Month at my favorite simplicity blog, Small Notebook. No Spend Month is a method used to limit spending on unnecessary items. Rachel and her family have been doing this for 4 years and she has some great tips and experiences to share. If you want to check it out, please do. Even if you can’t do it for the whole time, or need to pick a different month, it’s a great experiment in delayed gratification!

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2 thoughts on “The Ability to Say No (Especially to Yourself)

  1. I also like the idea of learning how to say no and accept NO from others. Sometimes life gets busy and we have to say no (even if we would like to do it) just to make sure our burden doesn’t become unbearable. And then in turn, when you ask someone for help or to go out and do something, or to please, please, PLEASE let me buy your gold Zelda Wii remote because I will just DIIIIIE without it… and their answer is NO… Accept it (with no explanation needed).
    Love you Sissy :)

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