I can still hear my mother’s voice saying, “No Means No!” As a child, there were many instances that I wanted to get permission for doing something and was told “No.” When I’d persist, it would result in “No Means No!” When my mother spoke those works, I knew that was her final answer.
As a parent, I first avoided the use of the word No. At one point, I realized that my children needed a firm No at times from me and I used it without fear of their potential crying or yelling. Childhood is the time when people need to learn to honor this word as well as the person who speaks this word. During our lives, we are told No on many occasions – when we don’t make the basketball team, when we’re not casted for a role in a play, when it’s not dessert day, when we don’t get the job we want, when our love is not reciprocated.
This weekend, I was in a situation where I witnessed a person being told No. The No was extremely firm and direct. “This is our rule, no you may not.” As an observer, I noticed that this person was upset by the No. This person was in disbelief and did not accept the No. Like a child still learning the meaning of the word, this person pushed to the point of bullying. He did not respect the person who spoke the words. This person ended up getting what he wanted.
Why did he get what he wanted?
I feel like this situation was a learning experience for all involved. The people on the No side noticed that in order to avoid conflict or confrontation, they relinquished their initial response. Personally, I feel like it was a call for me to take a look at how I feel in each moment and not being afraid to express it – whether it may be the answer one wants to hear or not. I feel like women especially need to take a look into the Nos in their lives. How do we feel about saying No? Are we afraid at how others may take the No? Is it more important to avoid conflict than stand by our truth? Are we judging or blaming ourselves for the feelings of others?
I hope that this situation also created an opportunity for the person receiving the No to take a look at how to respect the meaning of the word No as well as the person verbalizing it.
As a sister told me,
“I think that this kind of thing happens on all sorts of levels, between men and women, constantly; as women, part of our role as second-class citizens is making way for men to be first-class citizens. Men are taught and expected to feel entitled to everything or to be beyond restriction, and women are taught to appease or to go along with this entitlement/right.”
We all have a right to say No.
We all have a right to have our choices and feelings respected.
What happened the last time somebody told you No? Do you remember what you felt and what you expressed? If not, notice in the future what you experience.
The next time you say No, mean it and honor and respect yourself by standing firm.The next time you hear No, honor and respect the person by accepting what has been told to you. And parents – use the word No with your children at appropriate times so that they can learn what they need to as children in order to be kind, loving, and respectful adults. Allow the person to express their emotions around not getting what they want.
My children also witnessed this situation. It was a good opportunity to sit down with them and explain to them how we can honor and respect a person when they say No. The moment I bring up this man and the situation, they immediately “get it” and shift from crying and complaining into a harmonious honoring state.
As Don Miguel Ruiz says,
“Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself.”
This process of honoring and respecting the words of ourselves and others takes great awareness, compassion and understanding, but will have profound effects on our world. Our world will suddenly become so much nicer.