I had an epiphany the other day, after recently falling down the black hole of Youtube and consequently binge watching videos on morbid obesity for a week (stay with me here). While mesmerised by the plight of people who are morbidly overweight and still shovelling astonishing amounts of food into their mouth, I realised that their addiction to food is not dissimilar to my addiction to shopping, or my former addiction to smoking or other common addictions people have to alcohol or gambling. Whatever the severity of the addiction a person suffers from, the common denominator is the inability of the addict to truly say ‘no’ to themselves.
I think especially having grown up in a generation where I was encouraged by society and education to “be positive” and to say “yes” to everything, I have somewhere along the line, lost the ability to say “no”…at least to myself.
Even in society, the trend towards agreement, compliance and conformity has seen a resultant retroaction with the rise in books such as ‘The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck’ which teach readers how to say no to things, commitments and people in their lives that do not add value to their lives or contribute to what’s really important.
While I agree that some people definitely need a helping hand when it comes to saying ‘no’ to others, I am not one of those people. However, my epiphany made me realise that I do need a lot of help learning to say ‘no’ to myself. No to my appalling (but slowing improving) shopping habits, no to making poor food choices, no to spending so much time online, no to being lazy and not learning.
Previously, I thought that somewhere along the line I had forgot how to say no to myself. But after mulling the idea over a bit more, I realised that I never actually learned or was taught how to say “no” to myself. Since I was born to the time I became a legal adult, most “no’s” came from my parents. And by the time I turned 18, the number of no’s my parents dished out rapidly declined, but instead of picking up the slack myself, I started replacing their no’s with my yes’s.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about using the word Yes in moderation when it comes to your own life…but when you’re using it indiscriminately, that is when things begin to slip.
So now after nearly 1.5 decades since my parents’ no’s basically became obsolete, I have to now teach myself how to say no to me. I already know this is going to be a hard lesson to learn, but it’s one that can’t be avoided if I want to lead a productive life that I can be truly proud of. And to think that it all starts with such a small word.