The Power Of No

Another post in my Power of Words series.  Don’t miss the Power of Hello and Power of Goodbye.

Although I could feel the blood trickling down my chin and dripping down onto my white shirt, I was more aware of the fist that was cocked back in preparation to land another blow to my face than the ruining of my perfectly good t-shirt.


I’m convinced that I whispered this simple word, but I can’t be positive that it wasn’t an emphatic change of heart that happened inside of me instead.  It doesn’t matter.  At that moment, time froze as if in a movie.  The blood-stained shirt, the cocked fist, the angry snarl on his face, one of my hands still on the steering wheel while the other tried to shield my face from further knuckle landings.  The pivotal moment was here, instigated by one small word that would change everything.

A week before, I had been in the ICU in an induced-coma after a drug overdose had stopped my heart twice.  The insidiousness of addiction had me back out looking for more a day or two after the doctors released me and here I was…strung out, in a mutually abusive relationship in the middle of an explosive clash of addictive personalities.  The insanity.  The drugs.  Death. Life. Rinse, repeat.

I was done.  With the simple utterance of the little small word – “No” – I took my power back and found I had it all along, I just never exercised or realized it.  The power to decide a new course for sailing.

I knew something had changed.  The scene unfroze, my face met with a few more blows to which I screamed him out of the car and I sped off into a new world of the unknown.  Everything I am, years later…clean, sober, writing, employed, touching lives.

Because I said no.

No more. Never again. I’m better than that, I deserve more.  No. No, no, no, no.

This is surely an extreme example of the power of “No” but we encounter this issue everyday, in many situations.  How many times have we been employed in an abusive work situation yet we continued to be “abused” because we simply refused to say no?  We refuse to set healthy boundaries for ourselves?  Because we refuse to know our worth.

Maybe you’re there now. You know you deserve a raise, or a better job overall, or you need your boss or coworker or friend or spouse to stop talking to you like you’re a dog.

Let me tell you something that someone once told me that changed my thought process on this…

“No” is a complete sentence. 

That means we can say “no” and not have to explain ourselves. We don’t always have to justify our actions. We can set boundaries and not need a reason other than “this is me” and this is where I draw the line. I’m not going to take it anymore, I’m closing the book and starting a new one. In Kindle format.

What keeps us from doing this?  Fear, obviously. (Fear is a liar, remember?) Humans generally won’t change until the pain becomes too great and we are forced to change. But we can do it before then! It’s a choice, this change thing.

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“No” can even simply be “I’m sick of feeling fat.” I’m not going to eat the ice cream for breakfast, I’m going to have a protein shake instead. “No” is really the catalyst of change … I’m not going to do THAT anymore, I’m going to do THIS. And it doesn’t matter what anyone says about it. Take ownership of your life, we’re the only ones who can.

Maybe you’re slipping into depression.  Maybe you’re unemployed and your sweatpants are trying to kill you.

“No” sounds like it comes with such negativity.  We are programmed by society to be agreeable.  But I can assure you, it can change your life in amazing, positive ways when utilized properly. Know your worth.

It’s been five years since my first life-changing “no.” Since then, I’ve said no to drugs, alcohol, smoking, abusive relationships, abusive friendships, weird church doctrines, unappreciative managers, and mostly importantly, the monster in my head that says I’m not good enough to write again, not beautiful enough to get married again, and not worthy enough to be given the gift of motherhood.

I learned the power of no. No. See? It’s not so bad.  And it won’t stain your shirt.

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