Friday, November 15, 2013

When To Say No

Sometimes it's hard to say no. Some people never learn to say it, and they keep ending up in situations they don't want to be in. Then others say no most of the time. How is it with you? Do you feel uncomfortable when you say no to someone or a situation? If so, have you ever wondered why?

Discomfort in saying no denotes a fear of something--maybe fear of offending another person; fear of appearing uncooperative or selfish; fear of criticism; fear of not being accepted; etc. But whatever the individual reason, fear of saying no can rob you of functioning as your authentic self. And that can be like a self-imposed prison.

It took me a long time to learn that it's okay to say no when that's really how I feel. As a child I was taught to be nice and agreeable with a "yes, ma'am", no matter how I felt. What a rip off. I couldn't be me. Well, after years of repressing my true feelings, I began practicing no sometimes, and it felt really good. I'm still not 100% cured, but there's still time, and I'm getting better at it.

Last year I had the no thing brought to my attention from a stray cat who showed up on my patio one day and said he wanted to stay. And he's still here. I don't know what kind he is, but very sweet and gentle. Every time I come home and get out of my car, he's there rubbing up against me and meowing a warm greeting. However, he knows very well how to say no. He's not a big cat, but his name is Big Boy because of this ability.

Well, one night from loud barks on the front porch, I knew a dog was after Big Boy. By the time I got the door open, I realized Big Boy had tried to retreat over the back fence, but didn't make it. And the two of them were outside head to head. Big Boy was marching toward this huge dog on his hind legs fearlessly boxing with his front paws and saying, "No, you will not eat me for dinner tonight." The dog was slowly retreating backwards, step by step, and then took off down the road. For Big Boy, that deserved a treat and a big hug. His little heart was beating fast, but he said no and stood his ground.

We humans could take a lesson from this gentle cat. Watching him in action reinforced my belief that even a mild mannered, gentle person has a right to say no when that's how they feel. Not only in crises, but whenever. So you don't need to be in danger to exercise your right to be who you are. If you feel uncomfortable saying no when that's what you want to say, then practice saying it anyway. It will become easier, and you'll feel a lot better being you.

I wish you peaceful no's



  1. This is a great essay! Love the use of the cat, of course, to demonstrate your ideas. I, too, am still a work in progress on saying no comfortably...but getting there. :)

  2. Thanks, Cathy. I guess we're all works in progress, and we learn as we go. I watch the critters, and learn from them too.