6 Ways Of Resisting The Urge To Say ‘No’.
You are always ready to strike back, to chop off the enemy’s head.
For being told what to do.
For being asked a favor even. Everything that smells the slightest bit like expectation or demand gets you mad.
Of course you’ll do it — but with an inner No of deep abandon and earth-shaking power that they can’t even imagine.
So you go about your days and keep your No as your sharpest weapon.
In No, there is power.
In No, there is also destruction.
I internalized this big No to just about everything as a child. Growing up in a family where I was the weakest member, and with a violent and authoritarian style of parenting, this No was the only protection I had.
I held it dearly and used it often. Whenever I was told to do stuff, and often even forced to do it a certain way (which I hated), I did it because I had no choice. I was beaten frequently enough anyway.
I would do what I was supposed to (in an attempt to avoid new pain), but with this fat inner No that carried an energy of aggression, resistance and — ultimately — power. Resistance was the only power I had.
There was only criticism, no approval. I was told I’m dumb and ugly. That’s not something you need to hear as a child to have an amazing, confident and thriving future.
That’s not the foundation that makes you believe in yourself and chase your wildest dreams.
But if you’re smart, at least you have your No. They can’t take it from you, it’s mostly silent and hidden.
You have your own secret society, your own rebellious movement — with you as the only member. It’s been the only way to survive, a way for your soul to not get broken under the weight of pain, fear and hopelessness.
And one fine day you make it to being an adult, going your own way, leading your own life, except you’re caught in an overall attitude of resistance and readiness to fight just everyone and everything.
To fiercely protect yourself against pain, externally imposed demands, orders, and against life.
Talk about self-isolation, talk about missed chances, talk about being emotionally unavailable.
It’s very hard (and feels outright impossible) to stop the pattern of general resistance. It becomes your nature, your default way of being.
Like a wounded animal, you’re scared, and suffering from the deep hurt of a bullet that wasn’t lethal only because it was deflected by the power of your silent No.
Yes, miraculously enough you survived, but the wound is still bleeding, and every attempt of a potential predator to connect with you, to talk with you, is viewed through the lens of risk-management and pain-prevention.
Even if it isn’t bleeding anymore, the memory of this violent experience is still so vivid and fresh, you can almost smell the blood and feel it dripping from your broken heart in a warm and slow trickle.
There is panic of facing another attempt of somebody knowingly or unknowingly trying to kill you.
Overcoming the urge to block everything and everyone out as soon as some unpleasant sensation comes up is really difficult. All you want to do is run and hide, better be on your own than having to adjust and do what others tell you.
There are people who choose to live together, talk with each other, maybe work together, and call each other out on their shit.
This is too hard, you think. You’re so sensitive, and this is the excuse you always retreat to when it comes to your lacking willingness and ability to socialize.
The fear of being hurt has you morph into one anxious control freak.
Yeah, you’re into connection and growth, you are a very conscious and spiritually evolved being. Pain is one of the greatest catalysts for awakening and transformation after all.
But you do the work by yourself. You’ve got this.
You don’t need others around; you’re learning to take care of yourself. To give yourself the approval you never got. You need space — lots of it. You’d rather be alone than with people who don’t get you anyway.
They haven’t been through the things you’ve been through (hint: everybody is traveling with baggage, we never know what demons others are wrestling with).
Your fear has made you an expert in discerning: You sense in a split second what a person is about, and if they are your people or not.
There is flip side to the gift of hypersensitivity and dead-on intuition: you’re prone to self-righteousness and judging.
Just the fact of considering this flip side might throw you into a downward spiral of doubting yourself and beating yourself up for sucking even at the thing that’s your deepest gift.
You’re still coming from a place of fear and resistance here.
This doesn’t get you anywhere, other than ending up as a hermit, chasing Zen and Ascension (if soul work in self-isolation is your thing) or becoming a lonely, eternally depressed and disconnected being.
Mission Resisting Life accomplished.
But that’s not what you want.
You don’t want to break your heart through resistance.
So what can you do?
First of all, you need to be aware of all the moments resistance takes over and slams the doors that would otherwise lead to new destinations.
Maybe you are a master observer already, maybe it helps you to keep track with a journal.
Sometimes you’ll be surprised at how many situations you didn’t notice when your No ran the show. It happens so often, you don’t even know.
Then you’ve got to forgive those who hurt you, forgive everything that’s the past and that fed your No. Forgive yourself for your No, and for resisting to forgive.
Forgiveness is a practice. Don’t judge yourself for not getting it right the first time. I’ve tackled it on and off myself, and I still suck more often than I’d like to tell you.
A Buddhist Prayer for Forgiveness — I started to write it down every day, it’s powerful.
Get clear on how important your No once was — it did an amazing job and repeatedly saved your life.
Also get clear on how it is affecting your life now. It really holds you back in big ways. Does this mean you’ve got to say Yes to everything instead? No.
Just be true to yourself and acknowledge the power of No. It can save you, and it can destroy you. Be really honest on where you’re at.
Feel it in your heart — does it feel good and supportive still? If not, see the next point below.
You always have a choice. Your resistance is strong, but is it you? Only if you allow it to be.
Only if you choose to give it that much power and to identify with it. For instance, “I’ve always been like that, I already feel how my No kicks in — I can’t help it!”
You. Have. A. Choice.
And believe me, I’m at the point of getting aware and trying to choose different more often myself. It is work, and it helps to connect with people who support your re-programming and your new choices.
It’s a two-way road. Those who want to give you love can only give it to you to the extent you are willing and able to receive it.
Imagine how much love you’ve rejected and resisted in your life. Did it make you feel safe? Probably. But it also made you sad, as you watched life mostly from the sidelines, aka the Fort Knox you locked your heart away in.
It happens almost automatically. What starts out wonderfully, changes soon, and you watch yourself getting mean, aloof, starting to nitpick, complain and withdraw. All the while you actually crave connection.
For a resistance-warrior, connection is hard to maintain, as the No pops up everywhere, sabotaging the very thing that’s been your prison once.
It’s worth the work though — connections help you to see yourself, to share yourself, and to learn to allow and receive. It’s the most fertile soil to grow on — together.
If you are like me, your No is already revolting, yelling: “No, no, no! Fuck that! I don’t care about guidelines and advice, I don’t need them. Just another article that tries to demonstrate what’s wrong with me!”
The fine art of discernment will give your No an important new job, because if there is something that you really don’t want, that’s dangerous, off, too much on your plate, or just not your cup of tea, you need a clear No.
But you can feel what’s more comfortable and feels safer if you let your No off the leash — this is stuff that’s really worth considering to stop, breathe and try a different route rather than the default of rejection or checking out.
I often have moments like this with my man, who is an embodiment of utter love and affection, while I come across as an iceberg oftentimes. I’m lucky that he reminds me and takes my resistance with lots of humor.
There are so many situations every day where I realize how my No got in the way again, without me even asking for its help.
It’s like a helicopter parent: always controlling, always checking on my surroundings, what I do, what I think, what I eat. Always feeling in charge, always ready to intervene.
You can accept that your No is there, that it is concerned about your well-being, and that it just wants to help.
Maybe you can accept that you’re not perfect, and be okay with stumbling along a new path, trying to figure things out as you go, and probably with a ton of setbacks.
There is no need to beat yourself up, or be so hard on yourself.
Maybe you can allow yourself to be weird and utterly flawed without judging the shit out of yourself. Maybe you realize that the quirky freaky things are the very traits that make you unique and lovable.
You’re not here to be a robot — perfect and heartless. You’re here to be fully you, and to be that, you need allowance and permission — first and foremost your own.
Which would be a Yes actually… and paradoxically also the ultimate act of resistance: in resisting the urge of No, you open up to people, to possibilities, to wonder and life.
This is what’s called coming full circle. Such magic… and it’s just the beginning.
Lina Boldt is a seeker, healer and writer. She has a Ninja-warrior survival record, and can often be found in the thick of deep transformational work, which made her gain quite some expertise in breakdowns and breakthroughs. Her current mission is all about surrender, and she can’t live without chocolate. You can connect with her via her website or Facebook, where she also hosts a group for rebels and messy souls.