How Disappointing People Keeps You Sane

I was speaking with my brother on Facebook a few days ago, apparently one of his childhood friends drank himself to oblivion.

Dead at 36. He leaves behind a little girl who had a drunk for a father and a crack head for a mother. Think YOU got problems? Fuck you, no you don’t. Do you have a job? A place to stay? Food? Then you’re light years ahead of the rest of the world.

His name was Mike Scott – and he couldn’t say no. Not to drugs. Not to alcohol.

We all suck at saying no.

We’re too weak, too soft, too lazy to say no. Saying no should be a way of life, it should be taught at universities, it should be reclaimed for what it is. The most fundamental control we possess. NO, I will not go, NO, I will not spend time with you, NO, I need to to do nothing because this weekend I’m competing.


I try to say yes to almost everything, but I’m in a new country, temptation surrounds me constantly. Everything is so new, how can I sit and do the work that needs to be done when I have friends who want to ride motorbikes and visit exotic bars and clubs and travel to beautiful beaches. I need to say NO.

Saying no

I’m terrible at saying no. I say yes too much, overwhelm myself with commitments and work, then everything suffers. Instead of saying NO as a way to make sure I am my best for the things that matter most, I end up making myself too busy to enjoy the things I need to enjoy.

Tipping point

Say no, so you can say yes to the things that are most important to you. Here is what has been working for me. Follow this rule: If you need to think about it too much, say no. Simple:

  • Q: Hey you want to come with me to see a football game Thursday night with me and some friends?
  • A: Oh I would love to BUT I have to work tomorrow
  • Q: Are you sure?
  • A: I don’t know what time would we be back by?


Say NO you idiot. Seriously, I think you need to remind yourself of this:

  • Say no, you need to be at your best at work.
  • Say no, you need to be at your best in your relationships.
  • Say no, you need to be the best friend you can be.
  • Say no, you need to be your best at the things that matter most.

Women are terrible at this as well

How many times have you asked a woman out to lunch or dinner and it’s always some excuse they come up with? Women hate saying no. They will speak the NO in other ways than just saying it. I have to work, I have a plans, I’m not sure, and the worst one we all use: Maybe.


I hate maybe as a response to anything – will you do go, will you not go, who knows! I take maybe as either a weak way of saying NO, or as “sure I’ll spend time with you if I can’t find anything better to do”. Both are insulting, and both are a waste of time.

What happened to openness and honesty

No, I don’t want to reply to your email because it’s too long. No I can not solve your relationship problems in 5 minutes. No I will not give time I don’t have for free. Saying NO can sometimes make you a douchebag. It’s blunt, it’s rude in ways, but it shuts distractions down like a boss.

Yea, we all give lip service to appreciating openness and honesty, saying no being part of this… but the flip side of honesty is truth, and speaking truth is difficult because it’s so shockingly uncommon.

  • Actually you are fat
  • Actually, you are wasting your time
  • Actually, I don’t love you

Yes, it’s wonderful when that openness is received in positive ways: holy Jesus rollerblading Christ! You do like me! But that flip side of being hurt emotionally requires us to cower away like mice, scurrying around to avoid be “that guy”.

Be that guy

They make movies about this stuff. A politician who tells it like it is? It’s sad that a statement like that is not true and it’s more aligned with the plot of some B rate movie starring Rob Schneider…

but hey, sometimes you gotta disappointing people to keep you sane and positive.

So say no and hang up the phone. Say no and do what you need to do. Say no if you need to think too much about saying yes.

When to say yes for real

When saying no is just an excuse for you to hide…say yes. When you come up with all the reasons why you can’t go, all the reasons why it makes no sense, when it’s really that you should say yes but want reasons to say no…say yes.


Not display, not perform, not act or show, but attempt things when you’re not sure if they will pan out well. It’s part of the learning process. Yoda was wrong when he said there is no try, yes there is. It’s the opposite of hiding.

Say no to be the best, say yes to become even better.

Be that guy

What?! No Bribe? No Free Something?

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