What it Feels Like When the Answer is ‘No’


Conflict ends when you stop pretending to have all the answers, when you stop pretending to know, and instead you listen, really listen to the one in front of you, who is secretly yourself, ingeniously disguised.
— Jeff Foster

You can be a wonderful person, as can I, but what happens when you’re not?

What happens when those qualities that you don’t care for reveal themselves. Being judgemental, for example. Or selfish. Or how about mean-spirited or unhelpful or controlling.

Can you be you, then?

Or do you find a way to stifle your anger, your greed and your lust?

And how about me, when I’m sancitmonious or too serious or too self-effacing? Can I be me, then?

Here, then, are some symptoms of what it feels like when the answer is no.

* Anger / outrage / fury / hatred / indignation / violence

* Resentment / irriation / malice / cynicism / displeasure

* Exasperation / frustration / depression / being insulted

* Victimisation / confusion / defensiveness / hopelessness

* Disappointment / shame / anxiety / foolishness

In one word, these symptoms can be summed up thus: fearful.

You feel fearful. (And you’d rather feel loving.)

These are all feelings, coming from within you, that stem for not allowing me to be me and you to be you.

Something about this moment feels wrong to you. A behaviour in me, a reflection in you, some thought of the past or the future. A reminding of who you actually are. Which you don’t like. And these symptoms are how that revelation manifests itself in you.

“How dare you call me a racist!” you might indignantly shout, “Take that back! Take that back!” you demand, whilst getting angrier and angrier and angrier.

For what? Someone spotted some of your fearful thinking and labelled you a racist. (Probably because your fearful thinking reminds them of theirs!)

But I am me, and you are you. Don’t you get it? We are imperfect beings, but we’re demanding perfection of ourselves, for fear of some kind of horrible death.

Which means you will make mistakes. You will say things wrong. Your fear will manifest itself, somehow, always – until it is transformed into love, that is.

The thing is, a fearful version of you is just as valid as a loving version of you, it’s true. But. But these feelings of fear would be far less powerful if you resisted them less.

Imagine, for example, being able to be angry, in that moment, and in the next being amused at your angry self. Imagine finding it funny to feel insulted, shamed or hateful. Your fearful self would both be honoured, and ultimately transformed.

But you don’t honour this side of yourself. You want to hide from it, to deny it, to escape from it.

And you can’t escape yourself. Ever. Wherever you go there you are, as Jon Kabat-Zinn famously titled his book.

Which means, then, that whenever you think I can’t be me or you can’t be you you feel that thought, and it’s never a pleasant feeling.

Which means, more simply, it don’t feel good, for you, when the answer is no.

So no matter how righteous you are in your feelings of condemnation for another’s behaviour, or your behaviour. No matter how right you are to feel angry or resentful or jealous. No matter how you really should have known better, or done better.

No matter. It doesn’t feel good. And that unpleasantness of feeling is a clue, to you, that you’re believing something that isn’t true in this moment.

So whilst frowning might feel right, smiling actually feels nice.

Think of it as a kindly self-correcting mechanism.

Does this make sense?

So all of the symptoms up above, of what it looks like when the answer is no can be reduced to this: you feel crappy.

And then there’s nothing wrong with feeling crappy, of course, just as long as you don’t blame anyone else for this feeling but yourself. Because your feelings, and thoughts, come from you. It ain’t someone else’s fault how you feel. It ain’t your fault really either, but it is your responsibility.

When you know that I am okay and you are okay too, no matter the behaviours on display – when you can taste the truth of this for yourself – then you will feel good.

Disturbances inside of you, as thought or feeling, merely reflect (I believe) some form of manifestation of perceived wrongness in your or in me.

A comparison that doesn’t need to be made.

A judgement of yourself that is unloving.

A fear that you will be found out.

Yes, even a nasty comment that is withheld by you, or stifled, can feel unpleasant. (You don’t say it, because you thikn you are not that sort of person when, sometimes, you actually are that type of person.)

You just can’t win when you pretend to be someone that you’re not. When you do not allow you to be you. The moment always knows the truth of you, it sees all.

You can’t fool yourself, or escape yourself, or hide from yourself. Which sounds like bad news, but it isn’t really. Because there is no need to fool, escape, or hide from yourself. Remember? Because you are you, and that is okay. Even when it doesn’t feel okay, it’s okay.

You ARE you, and I am me.

And you cause yourself no shortage of problems when you deny this ‘truth’ in some way.


Agree with what I’ve shared here? Disagree? Still got questions? Then please leave a comment. 🙂