200+ Person Cuddle Party? No Gracias / by Ben Weston

I was in a hotel conference room with what seemed to be about 200 people ready to cuddle.

People were in Pokemon and dinosaurs onesies, all already laying on each other in giant fuzzy piles on giant fuzzy bean bag chairs.

I was standing in the back of the room, about three feet from the exit doors.

The facilitator was giving the guidelines, one of them being: “No and no, thank you are complete sentences. You don’t need to apologize for or justify your no.”

“For some of you, that will be quite difficult so a great practice may be for you to just stay for the length of the cuddle party and say no to everyone and every request.”

You got it - I'll start.

HELL no. That sounds terrifying.

(I left the room.)

I will readily admit that historically I have people pleasing tendencies and don’t want to disappoint.

In middle school, in an attempt to make friends, I memorized Dale Carnegie’s book “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. I photocopied summaries of the chapters and made flashcards of them to keep on me at all times.

The basic idea: focus your attention exclusively on others, on what makes them feel appreciated and seen.

It didn’t have a chapter, however, on saying “no”.

(Embarrassingly, I didn’t realize until after college that the book was about sales, not making genuine friendships)

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Over the past couple of months, I’ve had a growing influx of requests to hang out, grab coffee, dance together, talk on the phone, chat on Skype, collaborate, etc.

Within the past two weeks alone, it’s been at least one to three requests daily.

If these were from strangers, it’d be easy to say no. What makes it difficult is that most of these requests are from people that I know and like.

In order to say no to one friend, I spent close to 45 minutes one morning researching Tim Ferriss’ resources on the most compassionate and clear ways to say “no”.

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To get better at taking care of myself and saying no, my practice has been to ask myself, “If I loved myself fully, would I say yes to this?”

Most of the time, the answer is no.

It’s beginning to get easier and the fun part is, I seem to fall in love with life more each time I say no.

I make more art.

My purpose becomes clearer.

And my self love goes up +50 with each “no” I give.

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At a social dance a couple of months ago, I walked over to a girl and asked her to dance.

She clearly and kindly said, “No, thank you.” And that was it.

No apology, justification of any kind, or excuse.

To the girl whose name I don’t know - you are my god-damn hero.