‘No’ is a simple yet powerful word that is quite often undervalued and misjudged. As children, we are taught to obey elders, follow rules, and lead a life that is generally accepted as per societal norms. While all this teaches us compliance, it also makes it difficult for us to take a stand when necessary and voice out a ‘No’. We often believe that telling a ‘No’ will portray us as rude/selfish people and even feel guilty about saying the same. But should we really be that concerned? Let us try to demystify some myths related to telling a ‘No’ with examples from Malayalam movies.
No = Attitude issue
It is often perceived that a person who says ‘No’ has an attitude problem. They are often tagged as people who think highly of themselves. If you are unemployed and you reject a job offer, what do you think society would say? Oh, avane kombathe jolli kittum enna vicharam!
Now let us try to view this perception from a positive angle. In the Mollywood movie Mayaanadhi, the female lead, Aparna, is struggling to make ends meet while trying to become an actor. She auditions for the role of a lead character but is offered a supporting role instead. She rejects this offer as she is aware that she is good enough to do the lead role. The more a person knows about their aim in life and their capabilities, the higher will be their confidence in saying ‘no’ to opportunities that do not suit them.
No = Lack of respect for others
A person who takes a stand in their life which is against others’ expectations is generally judged as someone who lacks respect for others. Telling no to others for having control of your life’s decisions is never something a person should feel guilty about. In fact, in the long run, it is such people who would be respected and looked upon.
The movie Sara’s portrays the story of a woman who wants to remain childless. After marriage, when she gets pregnant accidentally, everyone around her persuades her to keep the baby. But she holds on to her decision and undergoes an abortion. This does not mean she disrespects the people around her. By telling a ‘no’, she makes sure she has a say in what happens in her life.
No = Less growth opportunities
We might all have come across motivational quotes which advocate that opportunities do not come knocking twice and we should accept every opportunity that comes our way. If we actually start following this advice, then we would be bombarded with never-ending work/commitments which, in turn, can lead to stress and burnout. It is important to prioritise and say ‘no’ to opportunities that are not worth your time.
In the movie Chaappa Kurishu, the character portrayed by Vineeth Srinivasan is often mistreated by his boss and made to do menial jobs. Instead of voicing out a solid ‘no’, we see him harbouring hatred towards his boss and trying to seek revenge. Often the repercussion of always telling ‘yes’, when you do not want to, is that it leads to the build-up of negative emotions in the person. This can adversely impact the physical and mental well-being of the individual.
No = Adverse impact on relationships
Humans are social animals and healthy relationships are a necessity for everyone. But this should not be at the cost of losing ourselves or by going overboard to please others. Some people feel that relationships can only be maintained when they always agree with others and earn their approval. This form of attitude is problematic and such people find it very difficult in setting boundaries.
In the movie Uyare, Vishal Rajashekaran plays a crucial role in helping Pallavi, an acid attack victim, to get a job as an air hostess. But when Vishal proposes to her, she rejects it as she sees him as only a friend. Pallavi shows the courage to not be a people pleaser and sets her boundaries clearly. Any relationship that is fragile enough to break just because of a no was never a healthy one.
No = Not giving a chance
Humans are prone to make mistakes and giving another chance to them is generally attributed to large-heartedness. But there are various instances in which it is essential to not give people second chances especially when it involves elements of toxicity.
The movie Ishq portrays a moral policing scenario encountered by a couple, Vasudha and Sachi.
Sachi becomes overly suspicious and starts to think that Vasudha was molested. So even though Sachi takes revenge against the people who tortured them, Vasudha rejects his proposal. This is because she released that if she had actually encountered something bad, Sachi would not have accepted her.
It is important to understand that a person who says ‘No’ is not always the one to be criticised. Instead, it is the person who cannot respectfully accept a ‘No’ who ought to be questioned.