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You Don't Have to Say "Yes"

When I was 12 years old, in 6th grade at Roosevelt Elementary School in SLC, UT, I had a boyfriend named Robby. He was gorgeous. I do not remember his last name, but I do remember he had hair like Shawn Cassidy.


On a Sunday morning not long after our relationship began, I got a phone call from Wendy, a previous classmate. Wendy was a year older than me, so even though she’d moved on to Jr. High – she had heard about Robby and me.


And She was NOT happy about it. She wanted Robby for herself and she wanted to fight me for him.


Her invitation: “Meet me on the playground at Roosevelt this afternoon.”


As I remember it, I agreed and got off the phone. It took me about 2 seconds to realize what I’d agreed to and I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t know how to fight! Even with 3 older brothers who picked on me relentlessly, my method of dealing with confrontation was to turn and run.


I thought about my predicament for about 30 minutes. I considered calling my best friend, Julie, who lived next door. But I was both embarrassed to tell her what I’d agreed to AND to tell her I was scared. She and I had actually been in a few scuffles before and it never came out well for me.


I told my mom, “A girl wants to meet me at the school later”…. I left out the part about the fight.


“OK”, she said.


Darn. That’s not what I expected.


Suddenly it occurred to me; I DON’T HAVE TO GO. It wasn’t the same kind of turn and run feeling, it was an intentional decision. Robby didn’t mean THAT much to me, she could have him!

( 12 year old me, 1984 )


I had been invited to a fight, and I was choosing to decline that invitation. She could think what she wanted of me. She could call me back and accuse me of whatever she wanted to. But I didn’t care. Because I had made a decision for myself and that felt very empowering.


I never heard from Wendy again. But I still remember the power I felt when I realized I didn't have to accept her invitation to fight.

 

We actually encounter “invitations to fight” on a daily basis, and too often we say "yes" to the invitation by engaging in battles over opinions, criticisms, and holding on to past hurt.


We also say "yes" to the fight when we agree with others just to keep the peace.

When we don't engage in the invited argument, It doesn’t mean we’re letting them off easy, or that we've become a doormat.


Established boundaries provide a natural way to say "no thanks" to the invitation to fight.


I once told a person I would not stay in the room if he continued to speak of women in a demeaning way. I didn't have to raise my voice or get offensive.


When my daughter pushed me over and over again to start fostering kittens before Summer vacation started (our previously agreed to timeline), I repeatedly stated, "I love you, but no, that doesn't work for me." I kept watch of my emotions while holding to my boundary AND understanding why she wanted the kittens so badly.


FYI, There are plenty of times I lose my cool too.


The power we're seeking happens by taking responsibility for our choices and emotions. Because:

  • When we blame another person for what we're feeling, we are left feeling powerless.

  • When we try to show power over someone, it also leaves us feeling powerless when they don't "go along" with what we want.

  • When they do go along, the power we have is false.


Everyday as we interact with the people around us, we get to decide how to respond to them. It doesn’t always feel like we have a choice; It feels like they cause our emotions. I invite you to consider that WE create our emotions 100% of the time.


Accepting that invitation will bring the freedom, power and peace you're really searching for.


With Love,

Meredith


P.S. We respond with heightened emotions in some situations because of conditioning from our past. It's understandable and we can learn from it if we're willing to and That's a whole other blog post!



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