Tag Archives: The Power of a Positive No

The Dashboards of our Lives…

mini-one-862815_640My first car was a Toyota Corolla.

It was a faded gray and it had roll up windows, an AM radio and no AC. The heat worked sometimes.

The dash board had a gas gage and a speedometer.

A manual steering wheel was the driving mechanism.

I loved that car!

It took me on my first long trip from Ohio to New Jersey after Graduate school. There was enough space to stuff my meager belongings and drive off.

These days I still drive an import, just not a Japanese import.

My car has power windows, power steering, power adjusted seats that can be heated or cooled, a lumbar support that I cannot live without as well as a head support.

Air bags in the steering and the doors.

The dash board….

Well this is a thing of beauty.

I have a speedometer AND I can see a numerical display of my speed on the windshield.

The rest of the dash looks like I am in the cockpit of an aircraft.

I know when tire pressure is low. I know when there is a snail walking behind my car because of the rear camera. The car tells me when I am too close to objects in front and in back.

There are bells and whistles… Real bells and whistles that I have NO idea what they mean. I have to remember the sound and look up the sound in the 2000 page owners manual that came with the car.

I will NEVER understand this car! I won’t even try.

This car was the play thing of very inspired engineers and when the first one rolled off the line they all applauded and pretended that all the future buyers would give a damn about all the fancy schmansy stuff.

We buy the fancy cars and very few of us really give a damn about all the bells and whistles BUT we would never go back to the old car, like that first Corolla.

Yet, in our private lives, we keep using tools that are as outdated as that Corolla.

The tools we learned as a child to manipulate our parents, we try to use on lovers and partners.

The tools we learned in High School when we were first dating are the tools we insist on using in relationships that are way beyond the immaturity of High School.

We scream and pout as if we were teenagers and expect that people will just give up their positions to keep us quiet and happy.

We expect those tools to still manipulate like they did in the past.

We refuse to better equip ourselves to fully step into adult relationships.

What do I mean?

The tools I am talking about  are readily available in e-books, book stores and libraries. It’s the billion dollar industry of the Self Help Movement; while most of us have purchased self help books, how many PRACTICE the tools inside?

It’s the practice of new tools and skills that will get us away from the “outdated dashboard” we keep going back to so that we can install a newer updated version.

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.

I was never taught how to say No.

I was taught to be “nice” and say Yes to all that was asked of me and furthermore to be sure to do it with a smile on my face.

I did this for many years.

Almost killed myself doing this.

The few times I said NO to things, I did it with such anger and animosity that the people around me looked at me like a had two heads.

Like Medusa, if someone tried to get me to be reasonable, I felt like they were chopping off one of my heads and so two would grow in its place. The multiple headed monster was what I would become.

I stumbled upon the book The Power of a Positive No by William Ury quite a few years ago.

I read it, re-read it and read it again.

The simple tools for saying NO were right there.

But, would they actually work in real life?

How would I know unless  I practiced them?

I was at a small conference once where I told one of the participants about this book and how it changed my life and she said, “make it into a workshop. People, women need these tools and many won’t read the book. Give them a taste and then tell them to get the book and feast on it.”


I called the workshop, “Not Your Mothers Assertiveness Training.”

I did the workshop.

A few paid to attend and the rest of the seats I gave away.

It was a hit.

People loved the work.

I encouraged them to buy the book and to inhale the wisdom inside.

I heard from them from time to time that they were indeed using the principles.

A few times when they called to complain that they were being forced to do one thing or another, I simply asked, “What’s your YES!” (read the book to understand this question)
They got it and did the required work to make the decisions that would work for them.

This book is a part of the Live A Brighter Life series of classes and I encourage you to get the recordings, listen and then get all the books and really do a deep dive into the tools. www.liveabrighterlife.org

We cannot keep going back to the outdated tools, the outdated dash board and expect that our modern lives be best served.

We must find the courage to learn new tools, practice them daily and install them on the dashboard of our beautiful new lives.


Love and light,


Brighter Life Bit #9: Who are you saying “Yes” to, when you should be saying NO?

ILF_Wtagline_Logo copyYou can listen to the original teaching at the 5 minute mark of the Class 2 recording. You can download the audio from iTunes here or from the ILF website here.

Do you have trouble saying “No”?

It is easy to say “no” to the stuff you don’t want, those are not the “no’s” we are talking about. We are talking about the challenging “no’s”, the ones that come when you have to say “no” to something you DO want, or to someone you care about, or want to help. It is these difficult “no’s” that you don’t say when you should, that get you into way trouble.

You need to learn to say “No” right now!

But first, you need to explore the challenges you are facing when trying to deliver these difficult “no’s”, so for today’s Brighter Life Bit pick a person or situation where you experience difficulty in saying NO (when you KNOW you should say it) and answer this question:

Why do you have trouble saying no to this person or situation in your life?

Change, Protect, Create…strategies for a respectful NO

In his book The Power of a Positive NO, William Ury gives us these 3 strategies to help us form and deliver a NO that is supportive.

Ury tells us that we “cannot say a proper YES if we cannot say NO.”

When I first read that line, I had to really think about it.
This is what occurred to me…if I am NOT ALLOWED to say NO to you, then any request is really just an order from you.
If I have to obey my orders, why even put it in question form? Just say to me…
DO this!
DO that!

At least then I know what I am dealing with, dictators and tyrants.
It is my experience however, that few tyrants WANT to be seen as tyrants. They want to be seen as benevolent and caring. They really believe that all their demands and orders are for our own good. They may think of themselves as the parent and us as children and therefore need to be TOLD what to do and how to do it.

Here is an easy test. Think of someone in your life that you have not said NO to. They “ask” and you do, without any real choice in the matter.

Now flip the roles in your head. Are you allowed to tell them what to do and will they do it?

If, for instance, they say “This room is filthy, clean it up!” and you are expected to hop to it and clean it up, can you say the same, in the same voice? Will they hop to it and clean it up?

Please do not try this with an abuser!!!

William Ury says that we must:

1. Change what is not working… by learning to say NO
2. Protect what we hold dear to us…like not being a constant slave
3. Create the new way we want to live.

He informs us that by learning to say a Positive No, we will be able to make significant changes that support both our internal power and our external relationships.

I wish you list of energy to change, protect, and create the life you say you want.

Love and light

Who’s Minding Your LIFE?

Yesterday I had the chance to “fix” a problem for someone.
This person called me and they were sad and crying. I am a good fixer.
I am a really good fixer.
Then, I took a few moments to ponder if this was something that I really wanted to deal with.

I decided to not do it.
Why would I not do it?
The answer is so very simple.

I did not have the emotional bandwidth.
I could not sustain what needed to be done for them with everything that needed to be done for me.

I was already experiencing stress just from hearing the request and I knew if I did not pay attention to what was happening with me internally, I would make decisions that I would regret.

This skill did not come easily. I have been NOT paying attention to my own self for the majority of my life. Whenever I met someone who was able to decline “fixing” others I was amazed. I felt like I would never get to the point where I would be able to stand firm in a decision that was good for me.
But I was wrong.

The book that saved me from a fate of “chronic people pleasing” is The Power of a Positive NO by William Ury. I encourage you all to read this book. Inhale it slowly and digest every word.

I will give you one of the tips that Ury presents in the book. He says that people fail to say NO in the following ways:

We accommodate because of fear of reprisals if we say no.
We avoid the person all together so that we do not have to deal with the issue.
When avoiding does not work we feel trapped and acquiesce but with
anger. We end up shouting and blaming the other person saying “you made me do it.”

No one can make you do anything.
The words that people speak can be hurtful and you can feel abandoned because those involved did not see your point of view…but that still cannot MAKE you do anything.
We end up doing things because we cannot stand the “pressure” and we give in.

Building up resilience to “pressure” is what we need to do so that we will be firm in our resolve to stay in our own business and mind our own life.

Sitting in the midst of the pressure from outsiders can feel like you are going to cave in, but you will not. Your body is strong and will not collapse. It is your resolve that collapses. Allow yourself to feel the pressure and share the painful experience with a trusted friend or therapist. That is exactly what needs to happen in order to build
up resilience. It takes time. Only YOU can do it. No one can “give” you the strength to sit with the discomfort. It is a decision you have to make in order to save your own sanity.

If you don’t save your own sanity who will?

If you are not minding your own life, who is?

Love and light,

The mathematically correct way to say NO…

N + O = Time + Energy Boost.

We have all been there, someone asks for something and we are swamped BUT we say YES because of:

  1. Guilt
  2. Fear
  3. Powerlessness
  4. Cultural norms

Yes, this list can be endless. It does NOT matter why you say YES when you want to say NO, because the effects on you are the same.

You feel taken advantage of or angry and explode at those you love or you become more powerless and it feeds your “things will always be like this” way of thinking.

By the way, the anger and explosive thing, usually happens to someone who had nothing to do with the reason you are angry. The person who gets all of your fallout is usually someone who you feel safe with and who has accepted your explosions in the past. Please note that exploding on people is a form of abuse. (Read my post on Domestic Violence here).

Being unable to set and maintain healthy boundaries is crucial to saying a soft and positive NO.

Yes, I said a Positive NO.

One of my very favorite books is by William Ury “The Power of a Positive NO”. I recommend you order it NOW. It has changed my life and my relationships.

If you are unable to identify how YOU wish to spend your own time, there is a LONG LINE of folks who have GREAT ideas for what you SHOULD do with your time.

Spend a few moments NOW and make a list of people who constantly steal your time, even though you have tried to stop them it continues to happen.







Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do these people have in common?  e.g. family, co workers, perceived power over you, people you adore and love…
  2. How do I feel when these people ask for MORE of my time? Do you feel angry, happy that you can “please them”, afraid when you hear their voice?
  3. How do I hold my posture when I am interacting with these people? Am I standing tall? Do I haunch my shoulders? Does my stomach or my head hurt?

Understanding WHAT you do when you are approached by a TIME THIEF is crucial to understanding how to set and maintain a boundary. See other posts on the Art of saying No.

Have Fun saying NO!


Love and light,