Are you exercising this muscle?

Pearls from a wise man…

Most Sundays, I have long conversations with my grandfather about all sorts of things. He was a clinical psychologist, a military man in his younger days and now mostly just a geek. He drops wisdom bombs the whole time. Something really neat I learned from him:

Tucked away in our bodies is this incredible defense mechanism, carried with us across the ages. It has saved many a man and woman from chronic illness, pain, agony and a legion of suffering. This muscle is quite small and does not use very many calories. But, let me tell you… it will save you a lot of energy.

We can use it to tell lovely stories, sing Madonna in the shower, shout at the TV when your team doesn’t beat the buzzer, whisper softly into a loved one’s ear, or make funny noises when your Vietnamese grandmother makes American cuisine for Thanksgiving rather than sticking to her signature dishes (while still telling her you love her of course).

This is your “no” muscle…

Many of those I interact with who have autoimmune disease and chronic illness have poor boundaries. The externalities don’t matter… some jerk at work or on Facebook, a neighbor, a “friend,” a significant other or even a family member.

No saying no may cut you twice…

First, depending on the context, you may be lying or deceiving yourself. There are many insults our bodies do not like, but deception is a big one. You have your own truth that guides your decision making and it is often times saying yes goes against that truth.

Second, you predispose yourself to all of the further chaos and insult that is to come from not saying no. And then you end up in some mess that continues to tax your psychological and physiological resources and is more difficult to manage.

It’s okay to say “no”…

Always remember, you have the right to say no, and not just to the telemarketer (does this still happen?), or the annoyingly vague organizations trying to get into your wallet in front of the grocery stores.

But to the people in your life. It does not matter who it is. Friend. Foe. Spouse. Mom. Cousin. Mailman. Son. Daughter. Santa Claus. Doesn’t matter.

You have autonomy and you have more power than you may think.

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