Self consent day 5: Imagining no

Tree with 'Just SAY NO carved into bark

When you vividly imagine something that you want to say ‘no’ to it can be hard to move your attention after to something more pleasant.  Before you start this time, figure out what you’d like to do after this exercise. You might find it helpful to go through yesterdays exercise about imagining yes before you move on to other things in your day.

You probably want to find a quiet place for this exercise where you won’t be disturbed. It would be helpful to have something where you can note down your feelings. Once you have settled yourself, have a look at your ‘yes’ list and select something quite different from what you have already written about. Find yourself somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself engaging with the thing that you like to say ‘no’ to.  You can either imagine being invited to do that thing with a friend, the last time you smelled, ate, or engaged in whatever it was. Make the image, sound, texture and smell of your choice vivid in your mind.

While you are imagining your choice, move your attention to your body. Do you feel any sensations? Can you find any emotions? Where in your body are you feeling things? Take a moment to make a note of the sensations, emotions and body feelings. Compare these to how you felt about the previous ‘no’, noting similarities and differences.

If you have time, you can repeat this exercise for another item on your list, or with a less pronounced ‘no’ if this was overwhelming for you. The more different areas you think about, the greater your awareness of your body’s signals will be. It will also be likely to add nuance to your understanding of your own ‘yes’ and ‘no’ reactions. You might find that you can feel different intensities of no, or that there are different kinds of no, from things that you would make a strenuous effort to avoid, to things that you have a slight preference not to do. The subtle differences between your ‘no’ feelings can give you really useful information, and it can help you to recognise the smaller no’s that you might have been ignoring.

For example: I decided to think about bungee jumping.  While I love rollercoasters, the idea of bungee jumping makes me feel breathless.  My chest tenses up and I get a knot in my stomach.  Just like when I think about the birds, I get sensations in my chest and tummy.  I also found myself leaning back, as if I could move away from the idea by leaning.  The emotions that go with the sensations are fear, verging on panic. I think the strongest sense of ‘no’ is in the tightness in my chest.

If you are interested in counselling or coaching on self consent, relationships, or wider mental health, please contact me via the contact page.

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