How to you say NO to your best friend? Your child? Your spouse?How do you tell your best friend they should say NO to something themselves? It’s tricky. People today want to hear ‘YES.’ We’ve lived in a generation that grew up with ‘positive reinforcement’ and this fear of hurting someone’s feelings. Yet, with all that positive reinforcement and ‘building’ up, are we actually better? We have more people as a percentage depressed on prescription pills than ever before, more people ‘searching’ for love, more people overweight, more people in ‘unhappy’ relationships, & more people in more debt than ever before! Maybe our ‘soft’ approach isn’t working. Maybe kids (and people) need a direct answer, a direct way to think.
I love the story that Jenny McCarthy tells of dating. She basically says that she reached a point where she was sick and tired of dating the wrong men. She decided that for one year, she would say NO to every man who asked her out. No matter what, her first response would be ‘NO.’ Her thinking was that if a man was there for the right reasons, he wouldn’t give up so easily. If a man can make it a year or push through some ‘NO’s’ then maybe he would be more apt to be the ‘right’ man. She succeeded in her goal and what happened? She did meet Mr. Right, Donnie Wahlberg, and now they are married. Was it a coincidence? I don’t think so. I think we say YES so often that we clutter the true path we are supposed to travel. When we learn to say NO, we allow for the good and the right to get through.
We’ve all heard Warren Buffett’s view on saying ‘NO.’ ‘The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say NO to almost everything.’ What a comment. ‘Almost everything!’ I know people who say NO to almost NOTHING and you look at their lives and it is utter chaos. Overweight, no time, house is disorderly, car is disgusting, no quality time for kids, etc. Running around doing a million things all day long yet never getting anywhere. It’s a recipe for disaster.
How do we start the process of saying NO? When we’ve trained ourselves and grown accustomed to saying YES so much, how do you turn it around? I can remember the first time it hit me, just say NO. I was struggling with a friend asking me to do something for her. I already didn’t have enough time to do what I needed, and her request would have only placed additional unnecessary stress on my life. It flashed through my mind…just say NO. So I did! It was the best feeling ever. It ended all the conflict and anxiety I was feeling. I felt powerful and in control. I realized it’s not always about the other person’s supposed feelings, it’s about mine also. My schedule, my time, my priorities, my life. No one can live to keep pleasing everyone else. This feeling became addictive.
I wanted to carry my newfound love for this two letter word into every area of life. How about parenting? How many times we hear a request from a child and want to scream NO! But we are so programmed that ‘oh my, we can’t say NO, we have to disguise it and distract them and ‘trick’ them into changing their question. We have to worry about their self esteem, we can’t make them feel rejected. The only problem with that is…life is full of NO’s. They are going to hear it a lot in life and if you don’t get them used to it now, they will end up like the millions that need anti-anxiety drugs and pills to help them ‘cope.’
Who was told No in life? Walt Disney was ftold he ‘lacked imagination & had no good ideas.’ Oprah was fired as a reporter because she apparently couldn’t ‘sever’ her emotions from her stories. Elvis performed at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and was told after that he should return to Memphis and be a truck driver. Albert Einstein didn’t read until 7 and was expelled from school. Marilyn Monroe was told she should consider a career as a secretary. All these NO’s and did it stop them? Hinder them? Destroy their self esteem? NO! Sometimes NO is the best thing someone can hear.
Why should YOU say NO? To focus on what is important in your life, to avoid distractions, to allow for more time, and to stop doing everyone else’s job for them. How do you say it? Simple, just start. Start with one request and answer with NO. Build from there. What’s the best thing you can do for your loved ones and friends? Teach them to say NO in their own lives. Your life is enriched by helping others, and everyone wins. Learn to say this powerful two letter word today.