The Power of “No”
I used to be a yes man. “Yes,” I’d say, as they asked me if they could copy off my paper during the test. “Uh huh,” I’d say, as they hogged the conversation. “Sure,” I’d smile, as they spouted off their opinions to me. I would even cringe whenever I’d get a negative answer on my math homework.
But then I discovered the word “No.” What a beautiful word. So simple, and so cutting. Like a knife. Like a shining diamond. It is a strong and ready, “No,” that has stood up for the bullied, and the defeated. It is, “no,” that has lifted the abused out of despair. And it is a quiet and barely audible “No,” that has in some cases, saved the lives of millions of people. There is power in the word, “No.”
And so I began to think of things in terms of “No”. Why did I believe things? Was it because I was told to believe them? Or because I thought they were actually true? “No!” I’d say, and I would look at the opposite side of the story. I would keep an open mind, and always explore the opposing viewpoint. I would shake hands that No, and chat with that No, have conversations and debates with that No. And pretty soon I might say Yes to the No, or I might simply say No.
But in looking, at least I was one step ahead of everyone else, who were so used to saying Yes to whatever they believe, that a No seems insulting. “Yes of course, isn’t it obvious?” they say? “It makes sense because, well it just seems right, yes?” Well, no.
Because hidden in every no, there is a yes. By saying no, you might be saying yes to something even more important. By saying “No,” to that cookie, I am saying “Yes,” to the healthy food. By saying “No,” to a new car, I am saying “Yes,” to saving money, and working out every day on my bike. And by saying “No,” to my assumptions, I am saying “Yes,” to the idea that I might actually be wrong about something. “Yes,” to the idea that there might be a better way of looking at things.
And I began to feel stronger, and more confident. I was saying no to everything in my life, and then picking and choosing the things I would subscribe to. I was starting over from scratch. By saying “No,” I was standing up for what I truly believed in. And by saying no to toxic relationships, I said yes to the value I see in myself. I said yes to the idea that I am a strong and intelligent individual, able to reason, and worthy of true love.