“No” is one of the first words a child learns. It’s a most powerful word, as the child quickly learns, and it is the word that the child uses to begin individuation from the parents. The child expresses his or her difference from the parent by saying no, even when yes would make him or her happier.
But as we grow up, we learn to say yes to activities and people when we’d rather say no. Sometimes we are choosing to do something uncomfortable so that we will get stronger, like going to the gym, or to get smarter, like going to college. But many times we say yes so that the other person will like us, and then we get stuck doing something that we don’t want to do, that does not bring us joy, peace or even a better sense of community.
Learning to say no when it’s in your best interest can be the happiest experience. If you really don’t want to bake five dozen cookies for a bake sale, make a donation instead. If you really don’t have time for some activity that someone wants you to do, thank them and decline gracefully.
Learning to say no with peace is the most empowering experience. I am changing my eating habits. I’m not on a diet as such, but more like what Richard Simmons calls a “live-it.” I am choosing to eat healthier, and having some challenges with conflicting advice as to what exactly is healthy. Since I have some sensitivity to gluten and dairy, the foods I grew up eating are not good for me, macaroni and cheese for example. So I’m making changes in what I choose to eat, and in how I think about food.
No, thank you, I don’t eat cookies. No, thank you, I don’t put cheese or croutons on my salad. No thank you, I’ve had enough to eat. No, thank you, but you go ahead.
When I am able to say no with a smile, I feel strong and powerful. I feel in charge.
When I forget, or when I decide to break my rules, I feel defeated and weak.
Saying no to the old ways is my powerful way of becoming again, an individual in my own right. I’m like that two-year-old, but the parent that I am separating my self from is myself. I am saying yes to a new life by saying no to the old one.