I walk down the street every morning and I get set upon on all sides by voices, all seeking my charity. The homeless want money for cigarettes, Greenpeace wants to save the whales, and my local political candidate needs my money to effect meaningful change in our government. I can’t help them.
I used to tell them why I couldn’t assist, explaining that I did not have a lot of money but that I would certainly help with my vote. I tried to point the homeless people towards the shelters where I knew that they would be fed and housed. It took up a lot of my time and energy, and the people I spoke with were generally unappreciative because I was not handing over money.
I don’t do that anymore, and it’s all because of a self-defense class I took. There is a fantastic organization here in Seattle called Home Alive. This group offers low-cost self-defense training. One of the workshops I took was on verbal self-defense and boundary setting. We practiced different ways to react when someone had done something inappropriate to us. Sometimes a word is enough, and sometimes you need to do something more physical. The most important lesson I learned that day was that the word no doesn’t need any justification.
No can stand alone. Greenpeace doesn’t have to know why I’m not giving money. I do not have to justify myself. That is a liberating thing to know. I’ve made it my practice now when asked on the street to just say no without any qualifying statements. If they ask again, I repeat myself. Of course I always have the option to say yes, but that’s at my discretion. It’s great to have control back. That’s a very joyful feeling.
I plan to take more of their classes sometime soon. It feels great to know that I can defend myself should the need arise. Who’s going to take care of me if I don’t take care of myself?
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
115. Next time someone asks you to do something and you want to turn them down, just say no. Don’t explain why you cannot do the thing. Remember that you don’t even have to have a good reason—you are allowed to say no just because you feel like it. How did it feel to just say no?
Link, should you desire it:
If you’re in Seattle, check out Home Alive. This is a great organization, and it deserves your support. http://homealive.org/