It occurred to me as I was driving home today that in the personal development, we focus on the positive. During my training, it was drummed home to me that the unconscious does not hear the negative, to use positive language only during hypnosis. Even my recent book review 'Begin with Yes' was all about the positive.
Today, I am thinking about my experience and the Power of No.
In itself, it's a very simple word. Two letters only. But the stories it brings with it are immensely complicated...and painful.
I started hearing NO from my mother. No, don't touch. No, you can't have sweeties now. No, you can't go play with...you get the picture. But somewhere along the line it becomes No with additional subtext.
People say No and then a whole backstory is added, as if by magic. No, I don't want to go out with you, turns into No, you're boring, unloveable, undesirable and I don't like you. No, suddenly becomes a scary word. No, suddenly means I don't love you or I don't like you or I think you're a horrible person. And then it subtly changes, only other people are allowed to say No. After all, your parents said No to you, but you aren't allowed to say No to them. If you say No, you are a bad person and if you're a bad person, no one will love you, no one will want to be your friend.
Suddenly, No becomes all about rejection and powerlessness and helplessness. Hearing No and saying No are obviously two very different experiences. I would strongly argue that both are equally difficult, but for very different reasons.
Saying No is actually saying Yes, but to something else. For example No, I don't want to go to the pub with you; Yes I want to stay in my comfy clothes and watch crap on tv.
Hearing No means that you have to adjust your plans, desires and behaviours. No, I don't want to go to the pub with you, becomes 'Damn. I have to either decide to stay in and watch tv with you, or go to the pub myself.' A frivolous example, but you see where I'm coming from?
Let's look at it using more serious examples:
No, I don't want to be with you as a lover, or friend because...[insert reasons here]
Ladies and Gentlemen, hold up your hands if you've never, ever had that experience. I don't care who you are, how enlightened you are...that experience of No, sucks. In fact, I'd go so far as to say: it totally sucks arse.
I will hold my hand up and say I have had my fair share of hearing No. I have heard No from people who should have loved and cherished me...and they didn't. I've had No from people who said they loved me and still said No. I have spent hours, days, weeks and months trying to get them to say Yes. And guess what, they never did. Even when they said Yes, it wasn't really a Yes. It was still No in the end.
The deaths of my parents taught me many valuable lessons. One of which was 'what's the worst thing that can happen?'
So someone says No, I don't want to be with you. I have learnt to think 'okay, I'll go spend time with the people who do want to be with me.' I stopped filling in the back-story for the other person, hearing No, reminds me there are other options. I feel hurt. What I do with it, well that's up to me. I can invite the Self-Pity Gnome in and we can have a great party together. I can choose to do something else. And there is always something else to do, other people to go and hang out with, other choices to be made, if I'm feeling up for it.
I have found in my experience, that the biggest, most unpleasant and hurtful Nos, have been blessings. It might have taken awhile to pick myself up off the floor, grab my self-esteem and head for the other options, but looking back on those people...if they'd have said Yes, it would have been a complete nightmare. A disaster. And I wouldn't be sitting here contemplating the Power of No.