Saying NO. Plainly NO.

It’s Christmas soon. And we say yes to everything and forget to enjoy the magic moments leading up to this lovely season. Time is right for a lesson of saying NO.

A colleague told me how schools in Netherlands started teaching girls in year 3 to say NO. With amazing effects on reduced teenage pregnancies and rape – because the girls knew how to say no, and the boys knew that no meant no.

So I’m gonna teach you. Choose a person you trust to practice this with. Look them straight in the eyes and say NO! If you look away, smile, add a giggle or any other distraction after, it doesn’t count: you’ve just negated the whole thing. Go again.

NO! Keep practising, say it louder and with even more conviction: NO!!! If you need help, add a stomp of your foot while you shout NO!

This is surprisingly difficult for many of us. Keep going. We did it with our youngest at some point, and she responded that they were not allowed to say no or talk back at an adult. That really scared me, if that is what authority Australia teaches our kids at school, we need to get some Scandinavian values included; that your opinion matters, and that you can always speak up, no matter how many seniors are around.

So we practised, and she got it after a while. Do it now. You can do it to an empty room, but I tell you, you need a real person in front of you, eye to eye, to test that you can do it.

When you’ve practised shouting it loudly, stomping and all, it becomes easier to say the little NOs as well. Politely, respectfully, calm voice while keeping eye contact and standing your ground. And guess what you’re teaching others by doing that? That it’s OK for them to say no too.

Merry Christmas! Follow your heart and say no to those things that are not right. To those things that do not need to get done. Or do not need to get done by you. To those traditions or expectations not serving you anymore. Invite others to do the same. Accept no. And a no from others doesn’t mean you need to do it – you can say no too.

Stop. Breathe. Bare feet on the grass. Sit with a cup of tea for 5 minutes.

Happy Holidays.