Self consent day 3: finding no

The instructions for the third day are a lot like the second, but for your ‘no’ list. The main difference is really about your relationship with no. For those of us that find ‘no’ something that is comfortable to express and that do it regularly, this exercise will likely be pretty straight forward. For other, who have a more complicated and emotionally frought relationhip to no, this exercise might bring up some really strong feelings. If this is you, do your best to choose something from your no list that feels like it is under a 5/10 in intensity and upsettingness. For me, saying no to particular foods is pretty easy and I have a very easy time notiing the ‘no’ I have to lots of flying things. It is likely to be helpful to practice noticing ‘no’ in less triggering contexts before feeling into interpersonal situatoins or highly triggering areas of life. So, have a look at your ‘no’ list and pick something from the list that is a definite no, but without too much emotional baggage.  Write a short account of what the thing is that makes you want to say ‘no’ and why.  As you are writing think about your dislike of it.

When you are writing about your ‘no’ thing, try to find in your body where your knowledge that you dislike it. Where the ‘no’ that is associated with the experience is. It might be a knot in your stomach, tenseness in your chest or tingles on your skin. Wherever it is, find that place and recognise any emotions that go with that feeling. Find the words to describe them and write them down too.

If you have time, you can repeat this exercise for another item on your list.

For example: I really dislike birds when they are close up. A lot. A few years ago my cat brought in a half dead crow. She was this tiny cat, and the crow was HUGE – I have no idea how she managed it.  There were feathers all over the lounge, and the bird was still flapping around in there.  It was the first thing I encountered when I opened the lounge door in the morning. Believe me, it was an unwelcome sight. I felt this instant sense of panic and fear.  It was tightness in my chest and tenseness in all my muscles and breathlessness. When I think about it now, I can still feel a version of it. I had this really strong sense that I couldn’t go into the room, it was a strong ‘no’, particularly in the centre of my chest.

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