The Courage to Say, “No, Thank You”
By Bernadette A. Moyer
Did you ever have someone offer you a dessert, a nice big piece of pie or cake and you were on a diet and counting your calories? The person offering it wanted you to take their offering and you didn’t want to be unkind or hurt their feelings but the truth was you didn’t want it.
When I was younger I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings and often this lead me to saying “yes” when I really wanted to respond with “no” and “no, thank you.” I had men who wanted to date me and I liked them as a friend but found it difficult to say that I didn’t want to date them. They may have been nice guys, but they weren’t for me.
Through the years I have been offered many things like trips, dinners, events, friendships, associations and something inside told me “no” “no thanks” and I may have tried it anyway. Yet sooner or later that little inner voice that knows what is right for us, becomes louder and louder if we deny it.
Not wanting something doesn’t make it bad or make it wrong, it just may make it not right for us. I have had to do so much soul searching when it came to the direction my church has taken on things like gay marriage and things I have personally witnessed them do that doesn't seem to be very loving or very kind. Things I know would not be in keeping with What Would Jesus Do? I believe that my church has alienated so many groups of people through the years and that we are in the midst of an uprising. I don’t believe they will ever have the power or the following that they once did.
It is not just church though, I witness it in politics, if you declare a side, you have all but alienated 50% of the people in our country. Business people have learned to be “politically correct” as not to offend any potential customers. They would rather not say what they think and believe because they know it could cost them business.
We seem to be living in a time of; “if you aren’t with me you must be against me” views on most any subject. Debate used to be healthy because you could flush out the best ideas. Having “the conversation” meant you were open to hearing all views and trying to determine the best outcome for the greater good.
Our culture has taught us to say “yes” and then go off on our own with expressing our real response “no” in a dishonest way. We fear what our honest heartfelt “no” “no thanks” and “that’s not right” communication will bring. So we try and make it easy with a “yes” when that really isn’t what we want or believe is the best answer for us.
It can take so much courage to be honest and to be truthful and kindly respond with “no, thank you that isn’t for me." And when we respond with the truth, that is when we respond with authenticity. Not everything is intended for everyone.
I still don’t like saying “no” to people I still don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but more than that I have learned that I can’t be my best when I am not responding in my most authentic way. We all have to do what is right and what is best for us. In Hamlet by William Shakespeare the phrase spoken by Polonius; “To thine own self be true” translates to “Do not deceive yourself.”
And saying “no” can be so healthy and so freeing and it opens the doors for us to respond with “yes, yes, yes!” for all the right things, the ones that best defines us!