Building of Mental Muscles– The Power of “NO”

A vivid memory of childhood: I tried to give up chocolate for Lent. On that very first day of lent–(Ash Wednesday) I told my mom I was giving up chocolate, and my mom replies, “Sarah, that is too hard. I know how much you like chocolate. Why don’t you give it up every other day?” And so that year, in true ‘Sarah’ fashion, I mixed up the ‘every other day no chocolate’ routine, and turned it into a ‘chocolate everyday’ routine. I did not give up chocolate for lent that year, and I have probably eaten chocolate almost every day since.cake

As a child I never learned to to develop will power. And now as an adult I find that I am really no different than my 4-year-old daughter; she drives me absolutely nuts. She frustrates me probably because I see so much of myself in her–she has a need for instant gratification and lacks self-control. If she sees something, she wants it immediately–she is an advertiser’s dream. If she sees donuts, cookies, ice cream, toys, etc., she wants them NOW.oreo

And  I find that I am parenting like my mom–when we drive by ice cream shoppe or toy stores or fast food restaurants, and she asks for ice cream, toys etc,, rather than say ‘no,’ I lie and say the store is closed. (I remember my mom always telling me McDonald’s was closed whenever we passed it while driving).ice cream

I have trouble telling my daughter ‘no.’ And I hide groceries from her–squirreling away the junk food so I don’t have to tell her ‘no’ when she asks for it. Because if she sees it, she will ask–not just one time but seemingly about 100 times, breaking whatever will I may have had. milkshake

Through self-reflection, I have realized I need to strengthen the  invisible muscle of will-power,so that I will be resilient and self-disciplined in my own choices (example: healthy food choices and resist the junk food that seemingly has become routine) as well as being a role model for my kids in terms of  will power and a stick to your guns attitude.

I am so malleable; I feel like I am always conceding, always giving in, never really giving myself time to think about consequences as I quickly concede in order to stop a potential conflict.  My husband says I need to ‘push back.’ He offers good advice. But pushing back is easier said than done.

I need to practice saying  ‘NO’ and meaning ‘NO.’  I’m such a “Eh, sure, I am up for whatever” kind of person or a “Eh, do what you want if it makes you happy.” I always associate the word ‘NO’ with hurting someone’s feelings, so I never ever use this word. Rather than say ‘NO’ I say “maybe later” or “we will see”– it’s like I majored in college in vague communications with a minor in conflict avoidance.

I don’t remember the last time I have dug my heels and said ‘No’ for any reason. Examples of my conceding nature: when buying a minivan the only color I did not want for our minivan was blue–guess what color our minivan is–blue. When buying a house my top requirement was a house with character –made with stone or brick and no siding–I hate siding.  Guess what we bought–a house that is ALL siding. I am always conceding. It can be very frustrating being me.

I have absolutely no stubborn quality within me. I am the opposite of stubborn, and my little ones know this and ask for things repeatedly–knowing that they will get what they want (eventually).

So this week’s challenge is to say ‘no’ and mean ‘no’ and stick to my guns with the word ‘no.’ I will be writing follow up blog posts regarding will power and saying ‘no’ as I am reading several books on these topics. If you have any tips for developing will power, please offer them.

aristotle

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