Sunday, July 13, 2008

What does "no" mean?

There isn’t a person on this planet, who at some point (or in my case, many points) hasn’t been told “No”. No, you can’t stay up late.No, you can’t have that toy. No, you are smart enough. No you’re not good enough. No, you’re not sexy enough. No, you are not worth IT.

And the surprising thing? Most of those “nos” are said to us by those people who claim to care for us. They claim they want to protect us from something. And they may be telling you the truth--at least as far as they are able to do so.

The word ‘no’ in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. No, you can’t jump off that building. No, you can’t kill another person. The laws of your country are generally for your protection if you live in a democracy. Laws make it possible to live together in society without the society dissolving into chaos and anarchy. If you don’t live in a democracy, that’s a whole other discussion.

As children growing up, hopefully our parents were at least cognizant of the fact that children need a certain amount of freedom, mixed in with a certain amount of control, in order to become full-fledged human beings. But people are not perfect, parenting is never perfect and things happen even with the best of intentions.

As adults, we need to recognize the reasoning behind the ‘no’ responses we receive. Is the authority figure (the one saying no) able to evaluate the situation logically and rationally? Does the authority figure have an agenda of which you are unaware? Does the authority figure have a self-esteem problem and says no to get a rush of self-worth because they can (or want to) control you? Is this figure a bully, either physically, mentally or emotionally? Is this person a threat to you in some way? Does this person just not care about you or is this person a stranger to you?

If you are a reasonable, sane person who is not a sociopath, it is more important to evaluate the ‘no’ in terms of what you are trying to accomplish. ‘No’ may mean I don’t agree with your reasoning and why don’t you try another tact.

For me, ‘no’ is an invitation to explore and evaluate my requirements, methods, needs, wants and desires. Just because someone tells me ‘no’ does not mean that I cannot move forward. It may mean having to side-step around an obstacle. Whether or not that obstacle means changing me is not important, as long as I know what the problem is. If I know what the problem is and I want to fix it, then I can fix it. Or if I’m not able to fix it, then I’ll find someone who can fix it.

Too many people give their power away to others without a fight. Without a thought. “Oh he said it so it must be true.” “I am really too stupid to know any better, so someone else should make the decision.”

Bottom line? Take responsibility for yourself. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts and intuitions. You may let yourself down, but at least you know to whom to attribute the success or failure of your venture.

“No”, in most cases, is an opinion, not a decree.

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