The Value of 'No'

I don’t think my dad knows how to be inauthentic – or maybe he hides it from me when I’m around. When I was younger I always used to notice his openness, even in the harshest conditions, like the Hy-Vee checkout line.

“Did you find everything you were looking for today?” said our cashier.

“Yes, did you find your way to work okay today?” he responded.

“Haha! Yes I did,” she replied.

“Great. How are you today?” he continued.

by Marlith

The universal cashier question, ‘Did you find everything today?’ is a subtle invitation to play the role of customer. It’s an invitation to not be yourself, an invitation to an inhumane interaction.

In my last post I suggested that you define yourself by what you accept, and the discomfort you say ‘yes’ to. But ‘no’ is equally—if not more important—in defining your values. My dad refuses to have inhumane interactions wherever he goes, not out of negativity or anger, but because it’s what he believes.

For example, when I was younger I spent many hours unhappy, in a state of low-grade suffering, but when asked ‘What’s wrong?’ I always replied ‘I don’t know.’ Eventually I grew tired of not understanding my inner-world, so I started to journal.

Not only did I find the gift of writing and self-awareness, I discovered two of my most important values: Taking ownership of one’s inner world, and refusing to suffer in ignorance.

Next time you’re asked what your values are, think of what you truly love as well as what you refuse to accept. They're often opposite sides of the same coin.