“Being present and ‘accepting’ is NOT the same as tolerating or condoning unkind, disrespectful, violent or shaming behaviour.
I speak from experience, as a mostly-recovered ‘Mr Nice Guy’! I think back to the utter emotional violence I witnessed in my family as a child, and how I was always tolerating, tolerating, tolerating… stuffing down my sorrow and anger, trying to make everyone feel better, making excuses for their unkindness, swallowing my words, never feeling I had the right to say ‘no’…
Until one day I realised:
I HAVE A VOICE. I MATTER TOO.
From a loving place, our hearts fully open to the Mystery, grounded in a deep YES to all of life, deeply rooted in the clarity of non-dual understanding (we are ALL the same Consciousness), we can STILL give a clear ‘no’ to situations, behaviours, policies, people. We can let go of hatred yet maintain a fierce discernment. We can love deeply, and still say ‘no’. And have the courage and willingness to face the consequences.
You may feel a deep compassion and tenderness towards a person yet still say ‘no’ to their requests, their statements, their behaviours, their acting-out. Your ‘no’ emerges from a deeper YES to life, truth, authenticity. Seen in this way, the ‘no’ and the ‘yes’ are not opposites, as the Moon is not the opposite of the Sun but equally welcome in the unconditional vastness of sky, in the giant YES of Presence itself.
The ‘no’ is not necessarily resistance, or ego, or an expression of fear, or ‘running away’. The ‘no’ can be fierce love, too. The ‘no’ can be an expression of great courage.
Friends, unconditional love does not require us to become doormats, or tolerate violence, or squash our precious feelings and hide our ‘no’ in order to appear to be more spiritual or compassionate or nice or kind or ego-free or enlightened, beyond human feeling. Fuck that image. It is false. A mask that will suffocate you in the end.
A true boundary, a loving ‘no’, does not separate us, it protects us. It allows us to keep our hearts open to each other, relate honestly, yet know exactly where we stand.
Others may not like or agree with our ‘no’. They may judge us for it. Call us names. But we were never here to protect others from pain. We were always here to speak our truth, with fierce compassion.
And so we can say, without contradiction:
I LOVE YOU. AND I WILL NO LONGER TOLERATE YOUR BEHAVIOUR.
And stand there, free, in our awesome power.”
~ Jeff Foster