The Power of the Word No. October, 2014

When I was a small child my mother would smack my hands if I reached up to touch the hot stove and tell me emphatically, “No!”  If any of you have ever tried to put a two-year-old in a car seat, you know how he begins to show his will, hurling one loud endless scream at the top of his lungs, “NOOOOOOO!!”

We all struggle with the amount of internal strength we have when we have to deal with the word no.  We have this internal self-governing spirit that manages to control our urges or our addictions which evolves throughout our lives. We can choose to say no and add a thank you to that when we are with others. We also address this inner power to our self-indulging impulses---the struggle that we are most familiar with.  For those of you that are struggling with a food addiction, you know precisely what I mean. There’s a huge reward in saying no to yourself; the payoff is a productive and endless peace of mind.  You are in control of your flesh.

Recently, a lady came to the office very upset because she had gone down 11 pounds, but suddenly regained 5 pounds.  She was telling me the program did not work and that she was going to quit and go back to Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I responded, “Well that’s fine, but let me ask you a question first. How did you lose the first 10 pounds?”  She replied, “I weighed and measured everything I ate, following the program to the letter!”  I then asked her if she was doing the exact same things now. “Well,” she hesitated, “there might be a little variation…” Guess what?  If you don’t follow the program correctly, it won’t work!  It’s all about learning to control your addictions by saying no to the flesh. This is imperative in becoming successful.

The word no is an affirmation that acknowledges our sense of personal responsibility. Sometimes we have to say no to others in order to take care of ourselves. Saying no to someone for unwanted food or drink doesn’t mean we don’t love or care about that person.  We can still maintain love and respect in our relationships.  We just cannot allow ourselves be influenced by people whose offerings would harm us.  The strength we draw from just saying the word no underscores the true depth of our maturity.  When we say, “The buck stops here,” we are really stating that this is who I am; this is what I value; and this is what I will or will not do.  In essence, we are saying, “This is how I choose to make decisions throughout my life. ”you” allows you to be in control of the situation.  Your body may crave the food, but when you are truly dead to the flesh, you just say no.

Many years ago when Nancy Reagan started the ‘Just say no to drugs’ campaign’ signs went up everywhere and remarkably drug abuse went down.  Cigarette companies were told to put warnings on cigarette packages telling people that cigarettes can kill. We saw remarkable results in the amount of people who quit smoking.


Saying no gives you a moment of clear choice.  It announces to the other person that you have an affirmation about yourself. The power of saying no gets stronger each time you use it.  People will soon learn to take you at your word.  But you need to learn to take yourself seriously.  For example, when you see the ‘ hot and ready’ sign at Krispy Kreme doughnuts, you must realize immediately that that could be the detriment that would bring you back to what caused you to be obese in the first place.

I saw a family this week that has started this program over three separate times. They are very large people:  One weighs over 400 pounds and one weighs over 370 pounds. They had done exceptionally well for some time, and then they chose to partake of those things that caused them to fire up their addictions.  They had not yet learned to hold each other accountable.  They have suffered because of this and both were headed for diabetes if they didn’t work to rectify the problem. Their children had suffered too.  With diabetes staring you in the face, you have to choose: Do you still continue to eat what you shouldn’t or do you learn to tell yourself no….

So as you start October looking forward to the holiday season, realize that you will have the chance to practice, “No thank you” many times.  I look forward to seeing you all throughout this holiday season and on into the New Year knowing that you are learning to control your flesh by the simple word no.

God bless all,

Chuck Shaffer, MD