Have we become too attached to the word no?

No means no - unless you really should mean yes. By Sofia Kazi

‘No’ is perhaps one of the most profoundly deep and multi-faceted words in the English language (all languages, truly speaking). Fashionably considered a trend word of recent times, ‘no’ comes across with a kind of cool detached attitude, sassy even and most definitely asserting. But what has ‘no’ really got to say about ourselves and at what cost?

‘No’ first rose to fame in around the mid-1980s, forefronting at the helm of an anti-drugs campaign, ‘Just Say No’. In the early 21st century it surfaced again, making its way into the courts of law for empowering females against sex crimes, and where ‘girl power’ has remained a hot topic ever since. The case for uplifting the downtrodden feminine divine continues to this day and thanks to a rise in self-help culture, you’ll not be far short in finding a plethora of lifestyle gurus, books and workshops-a-plenty, teaching you how to ‘reassert your boundaries girl’. But while we’ve been serving up ‘no’ like no-one's business, can this short and snappy new millennium approach for helping women to assert themselves, really be the answer?

Like all things, when we use something (in this case the word ‘no’), it may of course be a ‘useful’ act. We might be trying to avoid something we truly detest or decline a situation to save ourselves from harm. In this case, nothing says it better than ‘no’. Operating in its full power and glory and serving its true and rightful purpose in history and in time.

‘No’, on the other hand can unknowingly operate outside of its power and this is where we may express a negative state of mind rather than the rational of reality. Sometimes we can absentmindedly fall into a pattern towards a particular person, looking to find fault however legitimate or well-intentioned they may be. This subconscious ‘put down’ is often seen towards family members or a subordinate if you’re unlucky enough to have an unreasonable boss.

The last ‘use’ of the word ‘no’ is in its known misuse or abuse. This happens when we harbour a negative motive, manifesting from the vengeance of past hurt or we carry a superior arrogance towards another undeserving of our allegiance, consciously wishing to deny or deprive them.

At its very basic level, ‘no’ expresses negativity, even when we are acting in the true assertion of our very rightful and valid feelings. So please exercise the greatest care; the wisdom of good decisions lies entirely with us. When we use ‘no’, we may think nothing of it, that nothing has or will now happen… but behind the scenes while we are sleeping, ‘no’ is hard at work, busy setting off a series of severances, cutting connections and closing doors. The flat refusal that extinguishes the light with which another has comes forth open-heartedly. I say it again, please consider carefully because ‘no’, ladies and gentlemen, blocks flow.

I am lucky to be friends with Evelyn, because Evelyn is a ‘yes girl’. Yes, in its entirety of glorious generosity and flow. When we lived in London in our twenties, I came to know that Evelyn would always accept an invitation out, and the more she accepted the more I wanted to share with her. On one particularly stressful day, my mum (the great cause of stress) had come to town, so I decided to give Evelyn a call hoping that she would join us for dinner in Brick Lane. So of course Evelyn, despite her commute from Guildford (very west of London) and despite her long working hours said ‘yes’, and I was so touched and grateful.

‘Yes’ can open the magical gateway of the unknown, the priceless creation of warmth and joy in another. Despite the time, effort and money involved, here is a place of positivity that co-creates memories, builds connections and strengthens bonds. A place where sacrifice may build the sacred or you just might end up making somebody’s day.

‘No’ will certainly always have a time and place in our lives. It protects us when we need to be protected and can redress the balance back into our busy lives. But please tread carefully and please spread sparingly, for ‘no’ is the fear, and falsehood of power, the victim, the victor and vanquished devoured.

Sofia Kazi

Black-Cat is a yoga teacher and award winning filmmaker. It is her greatest passion to share her transformative life experiences.