The (Positive) Power of NO

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan aka ~Indygirl

There is one phrase that I think we may not use enough.

“No, thank you.”

There is nothing wrong with politely refusing.

Too many times I have stuffed my own feelings down and said “Yes” to things I didn’t want to do, staying in a bad situation or one that made me feel uncomfortable, or allowing someone else’s negative mood become my own. Maybe I didn’t set out to do those things, but I didn’t refuse them either. I’ve learned to draw a better line in the sand when it comes to such things and choose my battles with the power of “No.”

How do you do it?

Opt out of someone else’s bad mood. If a co-worker or a friend is having a bad day and wants to vent every now and again, that’s one thing. But we all know the friend or co-worker who does this every day and is in a perpetual bad mood. This person is always mad at something or the victim of something, and you have to listen to him or her go on and on about the same situation day after day. It sucks the bounce out of your step by the time you are done talking, if you even didn't add a word to the conversation. Next time that person approaches you, say that you just aren’t in the mood to talk about anything negative right now. Say that you are trying to focus on positive things and changes in life for personal reasons and that you hope they will respect and understand that. That may even open the door for you to tell them about SparkPeople and some of the good things going on in your life.

If a family member is just in a bad mood and you want to opt out of it, you can choose to go outside, visit a friend, go shopping, just get out. I tell my husband that if he wants to be grumpy, he can do it by himself. I find something else to do. In fact, a lot of times he will go play on the computer when he is in a mood and I’ll watch television or play on my laptop in another room.

Sometimes situations can be uncomfortable in public places. I don’t know if you have ever had anyone make fun of you in public, but at my size, it happens all the time. In my head I remind myself that I’ve lost 144 pounds and that helps me get through it, but the person making fun of me doesn’t know that. How do you say “No” in public? Let me give you an example.

Once I was at an eatery with two of my friends, and two young girls at the table next to us were giggling. I felt very self conscious but decided I was just being paranoid. The adult male at the table kept looking over at me and saying something to the girls, who would then look at me. A few minutes later, they had their camera phone out and were taking pictures of me. Rather than make a scene in the restaurant, I finished eating with my friends and then waited outside the restaurant. When the girls and man came out, I asked them politely why they were taking pictures of me.

The man hurried the girls away and said “You don’t need to talk to her.”

As they rushed to their car, “I told them that I did not appreciate it and they would not appreciate it if someone was doing that to them.”

To the man, I said: “What makes you so much better? You need to lose weight too and I didn’t take your picture.”

Believe it or not, my concern was for the girls. What kind of message was that adult sending them? Is it OK to make people feel bad in public? Should you feel bad if you don’t look like a model?

Grocery stores are another place I say “No” often. Children often make fun of me there, and while I’m used to it and have no problem with the children, it’s only when the parents join in making fun of me or ignore the child’s cruel remarks that I say anything. I usually say “That’s not nice to say to someone.” Then the parent will apologize. The apology is not what I’m looking for though; it is the awareness that it is not OK to say these things to someone just because they don’t fit the normal size range. I want to say “No” to children growing up thinking it is okay to make fun of people and let them know that it hurts. If their parents won’t say “No,” who will?

Family gatherings are sometimes a place to say “No.” Unfortunately, when families get together, usually “The talk” ensues. That’s the talk that involves “We are only saying this because we care, (your name here). You need to lose weight and exercise more blah blah.” I’m like “Really? I’m fat? That escaped me from last year’s talk. In fact I hadn’t done a thing about it and decided to get bigger just so you could belittle me in front of family again.” Not really, but you get the drift.

The point is that if they really cared, they could pick a more discreet time to care, as I’ve said before. Tell people that.

“No. We are having a family gathering, and there will be no belittling of me. You can call me discreetly if you really care to discuss it or not, and I will tell you about this fantastic plan I am on called SparkPeople.”

Low on energy? Running on empty from too much too much on the to-do list with friends and family asking for more? Before your energy levels drop any lower, cut back on a few things. Check your list and see what is truly essential. Sometimes we confuse “Want to do” and “Need to do.” Cut out a few “Want to dos” from your list and use that time for yourself, to work out or relax. If you know you will get bombarded the minute you get home, don’t go home. Go to the gym or go read a good book somewhere with a cup of coffee. The point is to do whatever you like and get some quality time to recharge your batteries. (Remember to let any people behind those "want-to-do" obligations know that you politely have to decline and that you need a break.)

Whatever you choose to say “No” about, remember it is about being positive and staying positive. It’s about cutting out the negative influences in your life politely. It is about preserving your self worth, your dignity, your energy level, and your happiness. It can also be about preserving awareness of diversity and social politeness. Whatever you use it for, use it politely and you could get good results in return.

When was the last time you said no? How did it feel?