Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Courage in 'Yes,' The Power in 'No!'

"Negativity is an ongoing attitude.  No is a moment of clear choice.  It announces, however indirectly, something affirmative about you."

This entry is inspired by the article I read in Psychology Today December 2013.  I have always been a person who is open to adventure, and sometimes even risk-taking.  I have always been with the idea that you have to seize life, make experiences, learn new things, and definitely grow through all of it.  

On the other side of the coin is the power is saying No.  That's something I have had to learn more the hard way than the natural way of being.  To some, like me, No comes a little harder, and I don't think it has to do with affirming who you are, but more so from the urge to seize, do, learn.  There is something much more powerful, though, in acknowledging that when you do, in fact, say No, you begin to reaffirm who you are even more.  You announce to the world where you're limits are.

While Yes is courageous and has a very open-hearted approach, just as the article The Power of No in Psychology Today says, the power of no distinguishes the individual from the outside world.  


1. It establishes your own foundation of you are.  If you know what you say know to, in contrast you must know who you truly are in order to specifically know what you choose to object to, or for that matter choose not to associate with.

2. If affirms your relationship with yourself as well as with others.  You let yourself know where your limits are, and you let others know where you stand on your involvement and relations with them

3. Lastly, the word no will set you apart.  It will put you in a distinguished place of your choice. 

"No is both the tool and the barrier by which we establish and maintain the distinct perimeter of the self." -Psychology Today Dec13


Although, No, may have a lot of power in distinguishing you from the world, it also has its costs.  The costs aren't always obvious, and not necessarily immediate.  The choice to say no must be taken cautiously and carefully.  I think this applies more so in a professional setting than in any personal setting.

I have had many opportunities in the work place to say no, especially when others will try to dominate, manipulate, and even exploit others into coercing them into a yes.  My experience has been that what the article in Psychology Today is true.  If we are prompted to say no in a professional place, a softer language, more obscure, vague, and general answer will do better.  
  • "I'll think about it."
  • "I'm not comfortable with that."
  • "That's good/nice/interesting plan, but I won't be able to."
  • "I'd rather..."
  • "I'd love to help, but I have already committed to..."
As the saying goes, it's not so much what you say, it's how you say a no.  The best approach is to do with a Zen calm, for your benefit and for the benefit of the cooperation between you and the other individual.


Sometimes it was only in retrospect that I wish I could have said no to certain scenarios.  Then again, maybe it's better I didn't.  It's usually help to make rules for yourself when to say no, when: 

1. You know you must do right by you.  
2. It shields you from the exploitation or abuse from others.
3. It helps you stay focused on your own goals.
4. You know you must change course.
5. To protect yourself to be defined by others.

"Unfamiliar, uncomfortable but very, very necessary, because constant craven Yes carves little slices from you, while No is a rock and a shield.  Therein lies its power."

I wanted to write on this topic for more than just personal reasons, because there is a universal truth in this argument.  It's hard not to take things personally when you're being exploited and culturally abused.  Whether it happens to you in your closest of quarters, like in your family or between your friends, or within the environment of your work place, you must learn to draw the line and say No.  That's when you begin to define yourself and you stop others from defining who you are.

No should be deliberated with caution, ease, and methodical action.  It can quickly turn into a reaction rather than an action.  You must remain true to your personal integrity, as the article in Psychology Today concludes the article with.  "The ability to say No is an essential element of one's moral compass.  Without it, we are merely agreeable pleasers, the Pillsbury doughboys of morals and values.  Whatever the cost or quake involved when you deliver a No, backbone is defined by your ability to say it."

Most often than not, a No arises out of our need to stay without the truth of who we are, as said above - our moral compass.  It isn't just a rebellion against someone else's nature to take us for granted and violate us, but our psychological response to remain true to ourselves.  When that point in life arises, actions must be taken, and it all starts with No.

Can you relate to any of this? What has been your experience on the subject?

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