When I was eleven years old, my aunt gave me a goddess necklace. A goddess necklace is just a little body of a woman made of silver, with a little quote etched onto it. When I flipped it over, etched in the silver, the quote read, “No is not a bad word.”
I didn’t understand it at the time, and it looked weird to me. So naturally, as most eleven year olds would do,
I lost it.
What a shame, because at 19 years old, I truly, fully, emphatically…
still struggle with this concept.
When we are little, we are taught to be obedient. Obedience is good. It is necessary. When we are little, we need people, adults, to pour guidance, love, and direction into us. See, obedience as a child is meant to mold you in to a good person. A person who is kind to others, who is helpful. And then they intend to set their child free, able to think freely, to be a productive human being in society, armed with the knowledge and morals needed to make their character wonderful. Obedience at a young age was meant to teach us how to function morally, with self-discipline that will prevent us from hurting the wellbeing of ourselves, and others.
What happens though, when obedience, when saying yes, is harmful to you?
As we get older, we learn that not everyone has, like our parents do, our best intentions in mind. Not everyone is asking us or telling us to do something because they know it will better our being, because it will cultivate our spirit. Sometimes, it is purely and ardently to serve themselves, their wants, at the expense of our wellbeing.
Sometimes, this person isn’t meaning any harm, but given the emotional and mental state that you are in, you know it would be unwise and unhealthy for your mental health.
For instance, I have been in various situations where guys have approached me, making propositions that I didn’t want to agree to. It has ranged from a gentle, “Can I have your number?” to a drunk man at least 15 years older than me telling me obscure things he wanted to do with my body. Now, my answer is most always, “I’m sorry, I have a boyfriend” for the nicer ones, and for the crude people, it is a quick speed walk away while gripping my taser. At times when I haven’t had a boyfriend, it was an unspecific answer of why I didn’t want to hang out because I was busy doing something or another.
This doesn’t only go for getting hit on, and it doesn’t only go for girls. Men and women alike are put in situations daily where we are asked, sometimes impolitely, to do things that compromise our morals. I have talked to many hurt young girls, I have been a hurt young girl, and I know that there have been many hurt guys who have said yes to something that they didn’t want to do because of intense pressuring from friends, people who promise to love them, or for the sake of desiring acceptance and love from people who--guess what--are never going to love you.
When did the notion that “no" was not a complete sentence come about? When did we start feeling like we owed someone who was making us uncomfortable, or giving us unwanted attention, or asking us to do something that we didn’t want to do, an explanation for why we don’t want to do it? When did protecting someone’s ego, man or woman, become more important than keeping yourself safe, comfortable, and healthy?
By bringing the notion onto ourselves that we are more comfortable with making ourselves uncomfortable, in order to avoid an awkward encounter with someone else, we are devaluing who we are, and what we deserve. We are telling ourselves that we are worth less than someone else temporarily feeling awkward for potentially being a really huge jerk.
“No.” is a sentence. It is a complete answer. You do not owe anyone an explanation why, you do not need give anyone a false promise that it may happen in the future so that you can escape a situation comfortably. You do not need to make everyone else comfortable at the expense of your wellbeing.
Next, we get those propositions from friends, family, and people who do care about us, who aren’t meaning any harm, but we know that it is best not to say yes to something at that specific time.
As an example, there are times in my life when I have been extremely busy, I have worn myself thin, and am in dire need of down time. I am an introvert all of the way. I don’t like huge social situations. I like family, a few close friends, or hanging out with someone one on one. I also need a LOT of alone time. Time to write, read, and mentally recuperate from the business that has taken mental taxations on my brain.
If someone asks you to do something, maybe because they miss you, maybe because they want to include you, maybe because they think you’ll have fun, you naturally want to say yes. You want to say yes because you love them, you don’t want to disappoint them, and you like their company–but maybe you don’t want their company right now.
You know when you need down time, you know when you need to rest, and, know this: you will not be able to give anything to that person, you will not be able to be a joy to them, and it will not be good for your relationship if you are empty, worn out, and in need of some self-time. You can’t fill someone else while you are run-down, burnt out, and this close to being empty.
My boyfriend adores me. This I know. He is the most faithful, loving, encouraging force in my life. But there are times that I want to talk on the phone, while he’s driving, while he has some free time, etc. And he doesn’t, because when he gets those few minutes to just “be”, he wants to just be. Quiet, and alone. That is perfectly okay. There are times when I am upset, when he wants to extend comfort to me, and I say “I just need to be alone right now.” And he lets me be. This is healthy and good and normal.
You don’t have to say yes to someone just because you love them. You can tell them that you love them, and tell them no. And they will understand because they love you, too.
Same goes for helping someone. I am a strong believer in helping whoever you can, whenever you can, but there are times when you cannot. There are times when you need to receive help, times when you have nothing to give, and giving when you are empty, trying to pour into people while you are empty, can cause bitterness and resentment. Something that is worse than not giving, is giving with a bitter spirit. When you say yes with a bitter spirit, that person will feel guilty for asking. Something that could have been a blessing to someone else will be ruined because it was not out of the pure intentions of your heart, it was out of you saying the obligatory “yes” because you feel bad saying “no”. You are one hundred percent allowed to tell someone that you are here for them, you love them, but this time, “no.”
Remember, the only reason why “yes” can be one of the most beautiful things ever, is because you are agreeing to something that you want, know is right, or know that this is where you are supposed to be! You feel it in your soul, and you are going to act on what you confidently know is going to help you, and the people around you, become healthier in the end.