James Altucher wrote one of those popular list posts of things he learned from being a day trader. It is really interesting, as his posts often are. Two of his points particularly caught my attention:
- “Say “no.”… You have to decide every moment if this is the situation you want to be in.”
- ““This is crazy” means you’re crazy. …I know when I feel like, “ugh, this situation is insane” that the first place I need to look is at me.”
I like these points, and I think they go together well. Because when a situation feels insane, it’s probably particularly important to decide if that’s really the situation you want to be in. And those are the situations in which the skill of saying no is going to be particularly valuable.
The second point is crucial because it’s so easy not to look at ourselves. Sometimes we want to look anywhere BUT ourselves. But ultimately the situations in which we find ourselves are often about us. They are about us whenever we have a choice.
Even if it’s a painful choice. Those count too. Saying no can be one of the hardest things to do. Deciding to remove ourselves from a situation is often deeply unpleasant. Making different choices than we usually do can take huge amounts of effort.
Sometimes we feel so attached to the way things have been or the way we wanted things to be that it takes awhile to make this choice. Sometimes after making the choice, we feel regret. We second guess. We wonder how it might have been if we’d chosen differently.
But really all that matters is the choice we’re confronted with right now. We can’t do anything about those other choices. We’ll never know how things would have gone if we’d chosen differently. We can’t go back and change things.
Sometimes we’re tempted to blame other people. We look at their behavior, and we want to point fingers and say, “Look! There is where the problem is.” And I’m not saying people don’t do some crappy things to each other sometimes. They do, and it sucks, and we don’t have to be okay with that kind of thing.
But in the end, we still usually have a choice, and so it becomes about us too. We get to decide if we’re willing to be in a relationship with this person. We get to set and hold boundaries. We get to say no. We get to say this is no longer a way I’m willing to be treated.
And what we’ll tolerate and what we won’t tolerate? The message that sends is about ourselves. So then the question becomes, are we choosing to send ourselves hate mail? Or today, are we going to send a love letter?