sex, money, and miscellany: talking about what matters

saying no

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2010 at 8:29 am

If you grew up when I grew up, “just say no” was Nancy Reagan’s battle cry, and it was the virtual wallpaper of your childhood. it became a joke. And then as we moved into adulthood, there was just say no to drugs but just say yes to everything else.

Well I am finally learning to say no to information.

I know, it sounds absurd. Life is a learning process, etcetera and so on. But I don’t want all information; all data is not created equal, and my brain and my time are limited resources. I finally value my brain as much as I try to value my body. I have always been careful about what I put into my body. My parents were very careful about what I put into my brain (too careful), but I’m finding the balance.

For example: I usually jump at the chance to see webinars and listen to audioclasses from people whose work I follow. But the other day I downloaded something and started to listen. It was awful. I stopped. I left the browser window open, though, in case I changed my mind. After 24 hours I closed it. That’s all. Didn’t check, double-check, or doubt. It was terrible and I don’t need to waste my brainspace.

For example: I can now stop reading a book if it’s not what I want to read, stop watching TV before the end of the episode, even tell someone I like and respect that I’m not absorbing what they’re saying. I think it’s more disrespectful to pretend to listen than it is to ask them to wait until you can be fully present. Let’s be honest, let’s be authentic. Not rude, just real.

And when it’s not working, either decide to make it work or put it down, either one is fine. But don’t stick it out and get grumpy. The world is grumpy enough, isn’t it?

  1. I’m so relieved to know that even professional listeners sometimes zone out! 🙂 And I’m right there with you — last week I decided I’d had it with email newsletters and unsubscribed from all but a handful. I’ve drawn a line: email is for personal correspondence; general-interest info belongs on the Web, not in my inbox. I guess a corollary could be, streaming video is for breaking news; entertainment and education should be downloadable.

    And I was just thinking about Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” campaign the other day… those “Yes to Cucumbers” and “Yes to Carrots” body care products make me wonder if that would be Nancy Reagan’s sex ed slogan! Well, not really wonder, but I couldn’t resist anyhow.

    • Everyone zones out, I think. Our brains hit overload and just stop. The key is having a culture where it’s okay to say, “wow, I just zoned out for a minute. Please say that again.” or “please tell me that again tomorrow when I can attend to it.” We need to have ways to meet our own needs while saying that we care, and we need to be able to hear that from people, too.

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