sunday with friends: Jamila Reddy shares

I have been trying to find ways to make the space I occupy on the internet one that is positive, inspiring, community-based and driven. With that said, for the next few Sundays, as we step in and out of the holiday season, I have some friends joining me in sharing their work, words, and stories. Today's post was written by writer, speaker, and personal development coach, Jamila Reddy. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. 

Jamila Reddy is a writer, public speaker, and personal development coach passionate about helping people live joyful, liberated, extraordinary lives. As a Nichiren Buddhist, Jamila’s life is guided by the philosophy of “human revolution” — the process of each individual transforming themselves on a fundamental level as a means of achieving world peace. Her favorite pastime is making lists of her wildest dreams and figuring out how to make them come true.  

Jamila Reddy is a writer, public speaker, and personal development coach passionate about helping people live joyful, liberated, extraordinary lives. As a Nichiren Buddhist, Jamila’s life is guided by the philosophy of “human revolution” — the process of each individual transforming themselves on a fundamental level as a means of achieving world peace. Her favorite pastime is making lists of her wildest dreams and figuring out how to make them come true.  

Saying No To Less Than What You Desire

by Jamila Reddy

Three members of my chosen family are in relationships that I don’t think will last. By my count, that’s three too many. My main concern is that they’re afraid to say no.  My other concern is that they’re settling, and convinced themselves that they’re not.  The people my friends are dating aren’t terrible people. They aren’t terrible partners. The problem is: They’re just okay. 

It is painful for me to watch my friends settle for okay when I know that what they really want is extraordinary.  I am able to recognize this pattern (of accepting less than what you want) because I spent a greater portion of my twenties doing just that.

Three years ago, I dated a man I should have definitely said no to.  He (who shall remain nameless) was wonderful in many ways, but certain things would reveal an emotionally manipulative, possessive, and obsessive side of him. If I didn’t answer my phone, he would call five, eight, ten times in a row. If I didn’t answer his calls, he’d send me text after text. If I didn’t answer his texts, he’d send me an email. His behavior was always under the guise of concern for my well-being and my safety. When I expressed discomfort about his actions, this man assured me that he cared for me deeply— that he just wanted to protect me, and make sure that I was safe. 

We spent ten tumultuous months together, during which I ignored red flag after red flag. In the back of my mind, I knew I should end things, but I stayed because I was afraid of losing something I could not get back. I loved him, and he loved me. When things were good, they were great. I didn’t want to be wrong about us and risk letting go of something worth fighting to keep. Holding tight to the philosophy that everyone has the capacity to overcome their negative tendencies, I stayed in that relationship longer than I should have. 

In this relationship and others, I was emotionally strong-armed into “compromise” — allowing myself to believe that it was an unavoidable aspect of all relationships.  In truth, what my ex-called compromise was really just me violating my own boundaries. It was me saying yes when I really wanted to say no. 

My heart breaks for my friends because I see myself in their shoes. I’ve literally been there. I know how easy it is to say yes to what we don’t want because I spent so many years doing it.  When I look back at my younger self, I realize that I spent years saying yes to things I didn’t want so that I could have the things I did want. I have said yes to inauthenticity —  performing a more “normal” or “acceptable” version of myself — because I wanted to be respected and to feel welcome or desired. I have said yes to being drained by people who leaned too heavily on me for their own healing, because I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve said yes to bad sex, because I wanted to experience intimacy with another human being.

Although I had to move on from them, I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for all of my past relationships. It was through suffering within them that I gained an invaluable life lesson:  We must love, respect, and trust ourselves enough to say no.  

Saying no is scary for many reasons: We fear that it will hurt someone, create tension, or make things difficult for us down the line.  But the heart of the matter, saying no is not scary because of what we might lose, but because of what we’ll have to do to fill that empty space. I carry these words by Marianne Williamson with me as a necessary reminder through my life’s terrifying moments, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

Saying no means that we have to pursue yes. It means that we have to activate our innate potential to get what we really want, instead of letting our power lay dormant and accepting less than what we desire.  It means that we have to remove people, things, and experiences from our lives to welcome in new ones.

Saying no is about recognizing your power, your magic. It’s about understanding, on a very profound level, the value of your life. It’s about freeing yourself from the shackles of mediocrity and demanding more than just okay.  Saying no is an inevitable part of every journey to something great. 

By keeping my heart fastened to my dream of living the most extraordinary life possible, I gain the courage to say no. If something or someone doesn’t contribute to my highest self and greatest good, I have to say no to them.  I love myself enough to know that I am worthy of happiness.  I respect myself enough to know that what I have to offer the world is so powerful, I cannot waste my time or allow myself to be depleted. I trust myself enough to know that I am capable of manifesting even the most impossible of things.