Having struggled in the past with saying NO, my immediate answer to this question was YES!
"No" gets a bad rap sometimes.
People frequently and automatically associate NO with rejection, negativity, termination, inconvenience, and being a party pooper.
Some people think in order to be considered a good or nice person, one must always say yes to the needs or requests of others.
To me, NO and YES are just two sides of the same coin and in itself is neither negative or positive.
Context is everything, and whether it is in the realm of relationship or race relations, or any other area in life, I have been learning that to come to a true and honest YES, one must also have equal access to a true and honest NO.
What gets us in trouble sometimes is people pleasing or finite thinking, where your motivation for saying YES or NO lies in wanting people to like us or feeling like if you say NO then somehow the other party loses something.
You can feel a difference between a true YES/NO. A true YES / NO has a feeling of generating energy, creating excitement, or clarity, versus the YES /NO of obligation, which can have a feeling of heaviness, guilt, and resentment.
There is a lot to be explored here.
There is a reason why in human development there is a whole growth phase, including motor aspects, devoted to exploring the word NO.
The training and behavior modification around NO starts young!
Think about how this stage where a baby is fully getting to own this word NO is called, “The Terrible Two’s”.
Terrible for who? Usually the caregivers.
Because No’s can be inconvenient.
No’s can be annoying
No’s can force a change.
No’s can make more work.
However, in most cases, a clear "NO" coming from a place of certainty is exactly the boundary, the container, the starting off point that is needed to make decisions, have clarity, and create safety.
I grew up in Japan, where culturally, people say yes with a smile even when they mean no, and it is very hard to discern what people are truly feeling.
This was very confusing to me and required a lot of sorting through my behavior and thinking to come to a better understanding and more supportive behavior in myself.
I learned, particularly in the realm of relationships, that sometimes "NO" is the most compassionate and loving thing you can say to others as well as yourself.
Even if you don’t love the outcome it can feel like a sigh of relief.
NO takes a lot of courage. I think this month, where we celebrate LOVE as well as Black History, there is a common thread between these two things.
Black History is full of heroes such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Barack Obama(and so many more) who courageously said NO.
NO to the status quo, NO to inequality, NO in the face of intense pressure not to. These people and many others are remembered for their NO’s because in holding that polarity, they helped more love to flow into everyone’s lives.
How can a clear NO positively impact your life?
I am so curious about this topic and am doing a class starting this evening where we will explore and reorganize your learning around this starting from a neurological perspective.
If you are someone who struggles with just being able to say NO, feel like your NO's are not taken seriously by others, or if you have any challenges around this word, there are developmental and neurological ways that we can support this skill and make it more automatic and integrated into who you are.
You can drop in or come to the whole 3 session series.
Reserve Your Spot!
Happy February Everyone!
All the best,