I admit, I am in the mood for reading lately and I have not been let down by the self-help sections of my local bookstore. Actually, this book came to me via a dear friend whom I told about my last great read about people-pleasing and how to stop it. This book should actually be in the ‘humour’ section of the bookstore, as I was actually crying with laughter as I read it. And if you like short, sweet, and hilarious, this is the book for you. It’s called, “The Power of NO: How to keep blowhards and bozos at bay” by Beth Wareham.
One of the most common issues clients bring to my therapy office is the inability to say “no”. Whether it’s declining a dinner invitation, refusing a marriage proposal, or telling your kid you’re not a total doormat, and that there are consequences for inappropriate behaviour, I find that as a group, we women generally SUCK at saying NO. This is not to say that we are weak or wishy-washy, because all the women I know are anything but. I think it has more to do with bad training as a species.
As little girls, most of us were taught to be ‘nice’ at any cost. And that cost is HUGE we discover later on as adults. We may have said “yes” to all the wrong things: that hideous prom dress that our girlfriend insisted was “darling”, that 80’s perm that was ‘all the rage’ at the time but looked ghastly on us, the career our parents wanted us to follow, the guy we ended up marrying, etc…
Wareham calls our first quarter of life the “Yessing Season” where we say “yes” to everything we should have said no to. I am definitely someone who has learned from the terrible “yeses” of years gone by. This must-have book covers saying NO when needed in all the essential areas of a woman’s life: marriage, friendship, work, home, family-of-origin, life in general, and the greatest NO of all- saying NO to YOURSELF when needed.
My favourite part of this book is the section on dating and saying NO is so vital to finding the right partner. I will leave you with some hilarious and wise words from the chapter on dating called, “The Yessing Season: No in Love”. Then you have to go out and buy yourself a copy of this book and keep it close by you at all times to refer to anytime someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do.
Why are the laws of attraction so often ignored when one is trying to attract: Chasing is not attracting: it is incessant yessing. And it’s annoying to most. Want something? Wait.
In this low-rise, instant-messaging world, everything and everyone is ready to wiggle, giggle, and hang at any given moment. Pants graze hips, and shirts ride rib cages; virtually anyone can be contacted in a second, no matter where they are or what they’re doing; random desires can be typed and sent in an impetuous nanosecond, arriving with a beep to the object of desire.
With all of this in-your-face-here-you-go-I’m-on-my-way yessing, never before has there been so much for the taking and giving and never have so many been unhappy once taken or gotten. Quite frankly, it is easier today to have sex than an interesting or meaningful conversation. Whatever you want is available, and yet nothing seems to last because the next bootylicious message alert is on its way. And you, my friend, are history.
Because you should have said no when you said yes.
You fell for the notion that because you said yes, someone would like you and like you for a long time. You said yes because you wanted that shiny thing, and you said yes because you thought it was the way to lasting love, enduring friendship, and acceptance- a happy life all around. You looked around at a culture gone mad with yes and forgot one of the most profound and enduring truths about human nature: People want what they cannot have.
You will learn that getting what you want often depends on your willingness to go without it- your gamble that a short burst of initial rejection will get you your much-longed-for sustained embrace. Did June Carter just run off immediately with that pill-popping, liquor-guzzling Johnny Cash?
It’s the ancient adage, made icky by Sting in a song: Free, free, set it free. Then let it come to you.
Chase nothing. Pursue no one. Stand fast and let it come to you.
You must, through word or deed, say no to get the yes you crave. (pp.1-2).
Homework for this week: Journal about all the times you said YES when you should have said NO. What were the costs for doing so?