It seems so simple. Just two letters. N-O. No! What does it mean? It’s an adverb. It’s a denial, a refusal. It probably means you can’t have something you want or don’t want to give away what someone else wants. It can also mean everything to someone who needs to say it but can’t or equally negative to someone else who may hear the word and think his life is over.
But did you hear the one about the girl who has absolutely no trouble saying no and the boy who either doesn’t hear or understand the word, or just won’t accept it for answer? I wish I could say this was the opening of a joke. But it’s not. It’s not really news either. But it is viral.
A YouTube blogger’s dream is to go viral, meaning they get the attention of an enormous amount of people online. And the dream came true for Dr. Lindsey Doe, who blogs under the name “Doe Eyes,” since her video blog has gotten 136,000 views and 1,000 likes since late February. She happens to be a mom who found it necessary to make a rather public announcement to ask a boy to stop asking her daughter out after she’s said no many times.
The fact that she’s a former professor, a sex educator, makes me think she knows what she’s doing. Not only that, but she was extremely eloquent and didn’t waste a word. She was necessarily and appropriately firm, yet also compassionate.
In the video, she says, “Dear boy who likes my daughter. I don’t like how you treat [my daughter.] Are you confused? You probably picked up messages from society about how when you want something, you have to ‘try harder, go at it, do whatever you can to get it. Don’t give up!’ Maybe it’s for this reason that you repeatedly ask my daughter out. In the halls, on the bus, and you write her poems.”
The former professor at the University of Montana in Missoula urges the boy to truly consider what brand of no the person is dishing out. It could be “I don’t know” or “maybe,” but if she says flat out no, then if he continues to badger her about it, he’s guilty of harassment.
Saying no can be difficult, although this particular girl of the moment didn’t seem to have any problems. But how about saying no repeatedly?
It could be something that occurred early in life, for instance, if saying “no” to someone you cared about and respected got such negative results that you stopped using the word as freely. People-pleasing is a common problem and can lead to many more problems, such as depression, when you realize that the need for everyone around you to be happy is a futile endeavor.
It might help to read Susan Newman’s book, “The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say it---And Mean it and Stop People-Pleasing Forever.” She’s a social psychologist from New Jersey who says; saying “yes” can be a habit that’s hard to break. “It’s almost an addiction that makes them feel like they need to be needed.”
Newman also says people-pleasing can make you ill from the pressure of being overcommitted, which might mean you’re sleep-deprived and have more anxiety. She says, “In the worst case scenario, you’ll wake up and find yourself depressed because you’re on such overload because you possibly can’t do it all.”
So what does that teach us? Just say no! Think of your self-preservation while you’re saying it. The recipient may suffer momentarily, but you will suffer for a lifetime for not using that precious little two-letter word when necessary.