The Power of No

What is the science behind saying no? We are taught from a young age how it works, but is it right? We find out.

As early as at around the age of two we learn the power that the word “no” carries. 

Is this actually a useful word? What are the consequences of negative words? Should we be watchful and judicious while using words that carry a negative meaning? We’ll see.

Among grown-ups, objectivists and those with a dominating personality appear to use the word ‘no’ quite often. Both personalities have a close link to ego.

Objectivism, which is a so-called liberal philosophy, is a system said to revolve around the right of human beings to life and peaceful living.

It is also described as the man, in this context a human being, whose moral purpose should be with productive achievement. 

So far so good. Nonetheless, this also relates to what is called rational egoism or rational selfishness that maximises self interest plainly linking it to ego. 

Psychologically an egotist is described as a selfish person who believes he or she is more important than anyone and an egotist as a person who is interested in ‘I, me, myself’.

From my personal view point, I am not able to see a difference between the two.



Dominating people who are generally and mistakenly thought of as those with a strong  personality, but in reality are weak and have the tendency to indiscriminately use the word ‘no’ and other negative words, often. 

Dominance is nothing but the desire to pursue power, be it within the family, among friends or on a wider scale. This research report, which is one of many ties-up dominance with psychopathology and several other problems.

Neurologists have carried out tests using fMRI scanners (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) on a large number of subjects, not once, but in many studies and whenever the word ‘No’ was shown on the screen there was an immediate release of many stress producing hormones and neurotransmitters. 

These chemicals are known to interrupt the normal functioning of the human brain, diminish logical thinking, emotional reasoning and even processing of words for normal communication.


No Means No

It is not only the word ‘No’. Thinking or speaking negative words result in anxiety to the self and to the other person. 

They even have an impact on memory, feelings and emotions. They are known to impact appetite, happiness, day to day satisfaction and sexual satisfaction.

To round off the point, being around both the objectivists and ones with a dominating nature, one is influenced into negative thinking and prejudice. Towards others and the self.

The word ‘no’ and other forms of expressing negative thinking culminate in self-fulfilling prophecies. So, in that context ‘no’ is indeed a powerful word.

Despite the fundamental desire to say ‘yes’ among so many of us there are situations when having to say ‘no’ is imperative not for the reason to feel empowered but for the sake of maintaining healthy relationships and healthy boundaries. 

This is when others know what to expect of us. Having said this, there are many situations when we can say no while we use other words. 

Let’s see how these statements work out : “I would like to but I can’t”, “Doesn’t seem to be a good time now”, “I wish I could fit it in”, “Sounds very nice, hopefully next time”, “Thank you for having thought of me, but I can’t” and similar. 

So the next time your boss wants to overload you, this might work if said with a smile, “I wish there were two of me so let me do a damn fine job of the work at hand.”

Want more related content? How about this?

The Art Of Learning To Say No

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