The Joy of No

No Parking Sign in Italian. Sometimes saying no can make it easier to say yes to creativity, relationships and to life. Photo by Claudio Vizia

It’s difficult to create if whatever comes out has to sound or look a certain way, or if there is a list of things that ‘should not’ be done. Sometimes my music students know better what they don’t like than what they do. Exploring these preferences can help them feel more confident making up their own music and choosing home play songs based on their preferences.

As a teacher, I can sometimes lose myself in care for my students. I imagine this is not unlike what might happen to parents. Especially during the pandemic, when life has become more insular, I can have a hard time finding my center as often as beforehand when things had a different rhythm.

One sure-fire way I connect with myself is giving myself permission to say “no.” Let me explain: I am talking about a journaling or voice dictation game where I allow myself to write down or dictate anything and all things I don’t like. If privacy is an issue I can destroy this list right away (shredder, delete function + empty trash). But the emotional freedom I find in this process is well worth the time it takes.

Sometimes saying “no” is easier than saying “yes” because negative judgements are boundaries that protect both emotions and intuitive self.

It’s okay to not like things.

People who practically dismiss their own needs to please others can connect to their own selves by owning dislike of anything from food to sounds to textures to another person’s actions. Writing down or voice memoing dislikes acknowledges them without sharing them with an unintended audience. Try keeping a “dislikes” list in your notepad app on your phone and adding things to it as they bother you. Record a ranty voice memo. When you’re done, keep it somewhere safe to add to it and refer back (I’ve heard of a “do not buy” list that keeps its author from forgetting not to buy groceries they don’t like). Or destroy it as mentioned above.

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Teaching Piano, Voice & Preschool Music for 10 years in Houston, Texas: Playful Mindful Music in person and online https://notearspiano.com

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Elisabeth C. Swim, M.A., OAK to NYC to HTX

Elisabeth C. Swim, M.A., OAK to NYC to HTX

Teaching Piano, Voice & Preschool Music for 10 years in Houston, Texas: Playful Mindful Music in person and online https://notearspiano.com

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