Embrace the Power of Saying No and Live with Fruitfulness

Oct 30, 2020

Much of our identity comes from the positive assertions of who we are. We say things such as, “I love sports,” or “I love to travel.” We are asserting positive truths about who we are.

There are many people who aren’t in touch with their “not me” experiences. They don’t know how to disown who they are not.

I once knew a student in med school who wasn’t performing very well, but he felt pressured to stay because it’s what his parents wanted him to become. He needed to scream at the top of his lungs, “I hate medicine!” until he was finally heard, but he kept quiet. His “voice” eventually came out in his poor performance in school and his failure in residence.

Negative assertions are a reality. Just as we need to take responsibility for what lies inside our boundaries, we need to admit to ourselves what lies outside. Some negative assertions would be: “No, I don’t like to speak before large audiences.”

“No, I will not work for that amount.” “No, I will not want you to touch me there.” “No, I do not agree with your theology.” “No, I do not like that movie, restaurant, or whatever.”

By being in touch with our “not-me” experiences, we further define ourselves to others and the world. If we can’t say what we are not, we cannot be separate from toxic things that could compromise our lives. People with weak boundaries cannot reject what is not them. It would be like skin that doesn’t reject foreign bodies; the blood from all of the above elements – our body, feelings, attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, abilities, choices, limits and desires – we cannot keep the bad stuff out our ourselves. We own things that don’t belong within our boundaries – some good things that don’t belong there and some bad things that don’t belong anywhere. In either case, they are “not me.”

This may sound mean, but this straightforward assertion may be required with controlling people who don’t take responsibility for their own disappointments. In reality, it’s extremely important we’re able to make negative assertions. We must be able to say what is “not me” in order to have a “me.” What we like has no meaning unless we know what we don’t like. Our “yes” has no meaning if we never say “no.” My chosen profession has no passion if “just anyone would do.” Our opinions and thoughts mean very little is there is nothing we disagree with.