"No Gracias" Lessons from Mexico, continued

When you visit Mexico, you’ll learn to say, “No, gracias.” You’ll need to say it… A LOT.

In the United States, people beg for handouts. In Mexico, people beg you to buy something from them. You can either ignore them, or you can say, “No, gracias.” The Mexican vendors are quite good at catching your attention. They’re smiling, engaging, and asking great questions to bring your awareness to what they’re selling.

At first, I felt terrible for saying no so much. While I can be quite a smart aleck, I also consider myself a healer. Being nice to people is a part of who I am. Saying no abruptly and walking away felt uncomfortable. Discomfort is a sign that I can learn and get past some of my possibly limiting beliefs about myself, and learn to become more flexible. When I was younger, I didn’t like these uncomfortable feelings. Now, I relish the opportunity they present to grow.

As I walked down the street, I wanted to say “yes” to the smiling, inviting people, but I also knew if I was going to make it down the street for a quick lunch and back to work quickly, I would have to say, “No gracias,” many times.

I did it. And I didn’t like it.

Why did I feel bad? These people were infringing on my space as I walked down the street. It should have been easy to say no. I sat with it… walked with it… saying “No, gracias,” many times.

It wasn’t long before a little girl about 7 came up to my table at the restaurant with some toys around her wrist and blew this little whistle and said $1 please. There were signs all around that said please do not give the children money, as it encourages them and it is something Mexico is trying to stop. As I looked at her in the eyes, my heart was pulled. It’s only a dollar, I thought. And then i heard my friend Oh Be who was sitting across from me say, “No Gracias” and she looked at him and her sweet look turned sour on him and then she looked back at me with those eyes. I heard myself say “No Gracias” and her look turned sour on me as she walked away. This kid at 7 was already a pro… “nothing, personal mister.” I was thankful for her sour look as it made the rejection I passed her way a bit easier. She wasn’t going to be devastated by my rejection.

I considered why this bothered me so much, and what I came up with was that I really thought these folks would be devastated by my “no.”

Here was an illusion, my fantasy that i was torturing myself with. It wasn’t true. I realized I was projecting past instances in which I had devastated someone by a rejection into the present situation.

How cool I get to now get over this and get a more healthy view of what “No” means. At the same time, I don’t want to become like some people I know who take pleasure in “No” and rejecting people. I would have 17 days to find my happy medium in this live classroom of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

It became much easier to say no or just ignore the most aggressive people. It even became easier to say no to the children.

One of the challenges I gave myself was to figure out how to say “Yes” while saying “No”.

It was easier with the kids…it always is isn’t it. 🙂

My practice was to look at them deeply as the spiritual being that they are… lovingly with a smile and verbally say “No.” However, my challenge was to hold them in a spiritual place and say “Yes.” In a sense I was saying no and wrapping it in a great big “Yes” acknowledging them for who they really are.

While a bit more difficult with the adults…i decided to start with fun. I would say ” No Gracias” while waving my hands with the gestyre of “No” well before I even got close to them and they had started their presentation to me. This one really seemed to stop them and interrupt their pattern.

I also would say “Manana” (meaning tomorrow, or not today) before I even got to them…or when they would ask my to look at their wares. Most would just look at me with a blank stare, except the guys trying to sell fishing adventures, they wanted to sign me up tomorrow. Most folks wanted a sale now, the fishing guys were primed for tomorrow. Same with the golf and dinner cruise hawkers.

Next, I tried to say “Si” (Yes) to everyone, smile and keep walking. This confused them as well. I learned this one from a friend of mine years ago. Jerry would get all excited about what folks were trying to hawk him and act like he was going to buy and just keep walking. I never liked him doing it, and here I was trying it myself. I still didn’t like the effect.

I tried ignoring everyone. This worked well…but I was so inside myself in order to do this that I was missing my external world more than I liked. I could see how I could get used to it. I knew many narcissists and a few sociopaths who used this pattern most of the time. It is good to know I can do it and was glad to get back out of that pattern.

Ultimately I came around to a blend of all of them. My unconscious mind seemed to now have many choices on how to deal with it best with each individual. I grew beyond my one possible response, and I discovered the freedom of many responses for many situations.

Towards the end of my stay, I noticed that I was not getting approached as much anymore…not nearly the same. I wondered if it was because the recognized the same gringo playing different games with them each time they approached me and decided to give up.

Or maybe there was a different look I had that they recognized as someone who knew what they wanted and they decided to save their breath. I like to think this is the reason. I do think it is a bit of both.
I want to thank the people in Mexico for helping me to expand who I am and being able to say “No” and “Yes” in many new ways. It cleared something in me similar to what sales did for me.

Now i did buy stuff while there…and a few people had extraodinary way of getting into both Oh Be and myself to say “Yes” and buy when we wanted to say “No.”

I will talk about those lessons in Part two or “No Gracias”