Just Say No

After the article last week, my mind has kind of been on this kick of looking at things we do daily, that we could adapt and in turn might just help us not only improve our lives but our chances of avoiding or surviving an attack.

One that sticks out to me is saying “no” to requests.

Now, “just say no” is something we hear a lot when referring to drugs or even sexual advances. And it’s great, but how often do we actually put this into practice.

Think about it, if I tell someone to advocate for themselves and their own personal interests in self defense, but they don’t regularly do that, how can I expect them to that in a high stress situation.

On the surface this may seem silly, but it’s not.

In my article “Practicing Confrontation for Personal Protection” I introduced the concept when it comes to something you disagree with someone on, but I think there is another level to it and that is saying no to things, and not just the things that you don’t want to do, but to things that ay seem good, but just don’t fit your current goals.

In life we have a tendency to jump at every opportunity we see, say yes to every invitation we get, or agree to do something with/for a friend, co-worker, boss, etc etc… even when it doesn’t fit in our overall goals.

If I am offered three amazing opportunities from three different people, do you pick all three or do you pick just one?

Think about it… you have a higher likelihood of doing well if you select just one opportunity and focus your effort on it, and yet, to say yes to that one opportunity, you have to say no to two other great opportunities.

The other choice is to say yes to them all and essentially half ass all three and in the words of Ron Swanson “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one.”

The art of saying “no” to things that do not fit our goals or do not align with our best interests is hard. It is something we suck at. We tend to say yes way more than we say no. Yet, if we start practicing this art of saying “no” not only will we find ourselves making leaps and bounds in the areas most essential, BUT we are practicing saying thoughtful and intentional decision making.

I know what you’re thinking… Ok man, what the hell does this have to do with personal protection.

Think about many of the stories of domestic violence or date rape. How many of those situations started with small subtle suggestions or influences where saying yes and no would technically be easier?

“Let’s just have one more drink.”

“Just one kiss.”

In your mind you are thinking no, it might even be said, but predators prey on the weak. There is a massive difference between a confident, decisive, and intentional “no” and one said in passing or meekly. The intent from the individual is the same “I don’t want this drink/kiss” but the predator doesn’t care.

Saying no to a business opportunity can be nerve racking. Saying no to a family/friend that wants to get together can get awkward. But they are amazing opportunities to hone the skill of saying no and advocating for yourself.

And holy shit, how important is that skill when the predator shows up?!

My father was abusive and manipulative. My mother suffered the brunt of that. Until one day she got us out of there… just to fight a custody battle for years, but that’s an entirely different story.

Just think, how many years she put up with that shit before she got out. I always wonder, what was the first subtle move he made to begin trapping her? Was it slowly convincing her that her friends weren’t important to better isolate her? Was it slowly taking away her opportunities to succeed or progress in her career so she had to rely on him for money? Was it just his tone that little by little over years began to cut her down?

If she had nipped that in the ass then, how would life be different for her?

This isn’t an easy task, but it is even easier when you are stuck trying to commit to the social norm of “always being polite.” This subtle idea keeps us from advocating for ourselves daily, which just gets worse as we get older.

It keeps us from the telling someone no when we don’t want to do something.

It keeps us from telling the stranger to stay the fuck back when they are in our space because God forbid we are rude.

It keeps us from throwing the first punch in situation that I KNOW is going to end up physical, because we have always been taught NEVER throw the first punch or else you’re in the wrong.

What if we had a simple concept that we could practice EVERY DAY that could begin to create a foundation of strength in our beliefs and our purpose? A simple skill that could let us practice standing up for ourselves and building confidence?

I would argue, it’s this.. find out what you want. What your goals are. Where your energy is best placed. Where you can best give back to the community. Then, only say yes to the things that align with that. No matter what.

Start taking responsibility for you, your life, and your goals. Stop relying on others to help make your decisions or determine your progress.

Greg McKeown wrote in his book “Essentialism”

“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.”

Don’t put your success, your happiness, or your safety in someone else’s hands.

Own that shit!!

Be good, train hard, stay safe


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