The Book of Good Living: Just Say No

The Book of Good Living: Just Say No November 30, 2014

BGL copyLooking back over my life, one of the skills that would have saved me a lot of anguish, annoyance and wasted time is the skill of saying No.

If I’d been taught to say No, just no — without anger, without guilt, without any sort of emotional spin — oh boy my life would have been different. I would have spent a great deal less time getting roped into doing things I didn’t really want to do. My life would have been more MINE — which I strongly suspect would have better allowed me to say Yes in the ways I wanted to say Yes.

Some people seem to have no trouble with it, but a lot of us DO.

The thing is, this is one of the things your parents won’t usually teach you, because you’d certainly use it against them. NO! It’s something you won’t learn in school, because you’d use it against them. NO! And it’s something you don’t really learn out in society, because everybody out there wants you to say YES, to whatever it is they want out of you. Buy this, do this, donate to this, join this, believe this, say this, do what *I* want you to do.

It’s one of the orphan lessons of life, the lessons that have very few real advocates or teachers. You only learn it via the constant inconvenience — or actual pain — you get from the repercussions of saying yes, or from not saying no quickly or definitely enough.

Here’s the thing:  Those other people don’t owe you a Yes, right? Which means you don’t owe THEM a Yes. You were born to be you, with your own interests and desires, and you can only be your best you by BEING you, doing the things you want to do, care to do. No is BUILT INTO the fact of you being an individual.

No can be friendly but definite. No can be gentle and quiet, but it can also be loud and forceful. No doesn’t have to be explained or justified or defended. It can just be No.

But it probably does have to be definite. Not: Well, maybe. Um, okay. We’ll see. Oh, well, sure, I guess. And definitely not “If I say no, they won’t like me anymore.” If they won’t like you for saying no, they ALREADY don’t like you — they like what you can do for them.

If they won’t take no for an answer, and if you LET them, they own you. Maybe a little bit. Maybe a lot. And you simply cannot allow that if you want to continue to be your own self.

It took me until I was almost 60 to really get good at it, and in just these past few years it’s saved me an enormous amount of time and discomfort. Which makes me think it’s never too late to practice and perfect this Very Important life skill:

No. No, sorry. Aw, hell no. No, I can’t do that. Not at this time. No, thanks. Nope. Nuh-uh. Are you crazy? Of course not! FUCK no! No way. Don’t think so. Don’t want one, don’t need one. No, I plan to laze around and do nothing all day. Maybe next time, buh-bye. None for me, thanks. No, that’s not my thing. Not interested; take my name off your list. I feel for you, but no. No, it ain’t gonna be me. I can’t do it; I wish you the best of luck, though. How about … never? No, I’m otherwise engaged. No, I’m not ready. I think I’ll have to say No at this time. No, I’ve got other stuff on my mind. No, I don’t want to do that. No I don’t want to try that. All booked up for now, dude. No, it’s not a good time for me. No, I’m not going. No, I’m not gonna be a part of that. No, I can’t agree. Ha! Good idea, but No.

No. Just no.


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