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When is Saying ‘No’ Really Saying ‘Yes’ to Something Bigger?

February 13, 2014

Cathy’s heart beat a little faster when she thought of him, while at the same time her body seemed to close in on itself as her stomach dropped.  She was full of desire for a man, but knew in her gut that he would not be good for her.  And with an 8 year old daughter to raise, it is a bad idea, and she decides not to do it.  It felt good to know this conclusively and to let go of actualizing the fantasy.  However there was now a hole in her world where that fantasy had lived, and Cathy is yearning to fill it in some way ….Shopping!

For a while now Cathy has suspected she’s spending too much out of her savings.  She has some big professional moves she wants to take; having the financial support of her savings seems like a good idea.  Not to mention Cathy feels strongly about teaching her daughter good money management.  But today, she cannot seem to help it.  She feels like a kid about to burst into a candy store as she grabs her purse and heads to the shops.

Six hours and $1,045.26 later Cathy arrives back home, her packages dully knocking against one another as she attempts to find a place to set them all down.  That feeling of guilt is there, the one she always gets after leaving the mall.  She’s not really sure how this will affect her bigger financial picture, so she just pushes the guilt down and ignores the impact of the money she just spent.

However, there will be financial repercussions.  The money Cathy spent was nearly 10% of her savings (meaning if she did this only 9 more times her savings would be gone!).  And, since Cathy had used a credit card in the store she still has to actually pay for her purchases.

When Cathy’s credit card bill came a few weeks later that feeling of guilt she had stuffed down edged its way back up.  In an effort to squash it again Cathy stuffed the bill into a pile of paperwork and tried to forget about it.  The due date passed and now all $1,045.26 began accruing 18% interest, in addition to the late fee.

Who knows how much money this shopping trip will end up costing Cathy?  But I can tell you that her feeling of guilt creeps up each time she wears something from that fateful shopping trip.  She doesn’t really feel beautiful, not like she’d like to – or like she could.  And when she looks at her daughter she wonders how this beautiful girl will ever successfully manage money when her mother models this type of behavior.

I love this story.  It illustrates both the fruits of:  Saying ‘yes’ to something bigger by saying ‘no’; and the repercussions of:  Saying ‘yes’ in the moment when saying ‘no’ would have been saying ‘yes’ to something bigger.

Cathy’s decision to abstain from becoming involved with a predictably negative relationship was powerful.  She was able to choose the stronger choice.  She protected herself and her daughter while promoting a healthy and fulfilling life.  Ultimately, Cathy said ‘yes’ to the life she wants to live by saying ‘no’ to this relationship.

Conversely, saying ‘yes’ to her urge to go on a shopping spree did not honor her true self, nor support the life she truly wants to live.  On a deep level, Cathy would love to feel confident with money management.  Using our resources wisely is an important adult responsibility, and managing money is a big part that.  Cathy would like to feel secure in her responsibility to herself and to her daughter.  Cathy also deeply craves travel and interesting experiences that money helps to provide.  When she spends her resources on an impulse shopping spree she undermines her ability to makes these desires a reality.

If Cathy had said ‘no’ to her impulse to shop that day she would have been saying ‘yes’ to her deeper self.  She would have been supporting the actualization of her ideal life!

But this can be really hard to do.  What did Cathy do wrong, and what can she do in the future to make stronger choices?
First, it’s about being really in touch with what you do want.  It’s about holding this close so that you’re motivated to make choices that take you towards your true goals!

Second, it’s about being aware of your situation and of how the decisions you make play out over time.  This way, the choices you make will actually lead you along the path of your ideal life!

Cathy was aware that there would be negative consequences to dating this guy – and she chose not to do it.  She was unaware of her financial situation and the negative consequences of her shopping trip – and she chose to shop.
So next time you want to just do something with financial consequences that are out of line with your intentions for life, consider saying ‘no’ to yourself.  You just might be saying ‘yes’ to something bigger.