Classroom Freebies

When You Say NO, Do You Really Mean IT?

Maybe, Yes and No Keys Representing Uncertainty


Whatever Camilla Paglia writes, I read carefully over a cup of coffee; she is that thought provoking. She was reminding her readers that her generation (she’s 69) knew the world was a dangerous place particularly for women.
The way I was brought up was: the world is a dangerous place; you must learn to defend yourself. You can’t be a fool. You have to stay alert.” *
I agree; because she says this better than I and with greater authority — enjoy.
“I wrote a date-rape essay in 1991 in which I called for women to stand up for themselves and learn how to handle men. But now you have this shibboleth, No means no.” Well, no. Sometimes No” means Not yet”. Sometimes No” means Too soon”. Sometimes No” means Keep trying and maybe yes”. You can see it with the pigeons on the grass. The male pursues the female and she turns away, and turns away, and he looks a fool but he keeps on pursuing her. And maybe she’s testing his persistence; the strength of his genes… It’s a pattern in the animal kingdom — a courtship pattern… *
This is / was soooo true. You see this on any nature show where the mating patterns of animals in the wild can be viewed. Males compete with other males to mate with the females. The female species always choose the winner of the competition.
There used to be a pattern of courtship between interested men and women.   Women had to know how to handle men. Their wisdom came from common sense, understanding human nature in general and specifically the male sexual nature. There was a time when women knew:
  • How to be attractive to men without displaying their body parts, wearing tight fitting clothes or texting naked pictures.
  • You never put yourself in a position where you were alone with the opposite sex.
  • You would never ever get drunk with a man or a group of men. In other words, you would not put yourself in a position of vulnerability.
  • Before you trusted a man’s good intentions, he had to prove his character repeatedly.
  • Women run the show  because it’s women who have the power to say NO. That’s why guys develop great persuasion skills. Women say NO and guys expect women to say no. Guys chase women and women choose. Guys chased the best women, then tested their level of confidence and self-respect.
I was diligently working on this concept until I got disturbed by the TV show The Big Bang Theory.
The above pigeon behavior looked a lot like the characters Leonard and Penny on The Big Bang Theory (the Fetal Kick Catalyst episode) and the direction of this Blog Post totally changed.
Important Life Rule — you cannot control what you get in life.

The humor of The Big Bang Theory is every character is focused on:
  • What they are getting and that it is not enough, not fair, not what they deserve or what they want.
  • How to control a person or situation to get what they think they want which results in frustration or anger and leads to more problems the writers utilize for future episodes.
  • Their comedic expressions of frustration, anger and or misery has kept this show popular for years.
In life you can only control what you give. One of the main premises of the show was, “How could a guy like Leonard get a hot girl like Penny?” Simple, he loved the unattainable Penny until surprise, surprise she wasn’t (unattainable). She was everything his mother wasn’t and everything he needed. Outwardly, Leonard was an ordinary looking, nerdy guy with self-esteem issues; he knew all about rejection. He could not compete with the handsome specimens Penny dated who took, took, and took from her until she decided not to give anymore. They were all unhealthy relationships. Beautiful Penny had issues with rejection too.   Leonard could only control what he gave and he gave love to Penny. He listened to her, supported her career dreams, and supported her through her embarrassments / failures in life. He focused on what she wanted / needed. His goal was to give it to her or help her acquire it.   That is how relationships are built (over time). He was her trusted friend, the one she could rely on, the one she could tell everything to and he had her back. And over time she had his back. She knew what Leonard needed, she knew exactly how to handle his Mother, and how to give Leonard the acceptance and respect his mother was unable to provide.   Over 10 TV seasons, their relationship grew into a deep emotional intimacy that is found in healthy relationships.
Love is like a smile; you really can’t give it away. You give love and over time love can come back to you.   Leonard pursued Penny and she turned away, and turned away, and he looked a fool but he kept on pursuing her. And maybe she was testing his persistence; the strength of his genes… It’s a pattern in the animal kingdom — a courtship pattern… between Leonard and Penny over 10 seasons on the Big Bang theory.

Today’s lesson:

  • No is a complicated word.
  • Reality of life: People cant control what they get in life or in relationships; people can only control what they give.
  • When a person focuses on what they are or are not getting, it’s either not going to be enough or what they want. The predictable consequence is frustration, unhappiness, anger etc. So, to get what they want, there is an effort to control people / situations. The controlee is going to resist the controller, and there my friends you have a relationship problem.
  • People who really love other people — focus on the others delight more than their own gift. I want to give someone what they really need / want; my joy is I gave that to you, it is my contribution to the relationship. Each person contributes gifts in a functional relationship; they work together.
  • A Dysfunctional relationship — Is when I give, and give — and you take, and you take.   AND/ OR   I got something and you really want it -- and if you want it, this is what you have to do.

Questions for students:

 1If we define a healthy relationship as one that focuses on giving (patience, kindness, empathy, consideration, needs, wants, etc.), instead of getting -- Are your relationships healthy? 


2.  Are you a taker? Explain. 

3.  Are you the giver in your relationships? Explain. 

4.  Reflect upon the relationship you have with your best friend. Are both of you givers? If your answer is NO, define your relationship — Are you takers? Is one the giver and the other the taker? Please explain. 

5.  Reflect upon the relationship you have with your parents. Is it a give, give, take, take relationship?   Is it a I’ve got something you really want and if you want it, this is what you have to do or are you both givers?    

6.  Do you focus on what you are given and look around and compare it with what others get? If yes, give an example. Explain how doing so made you feel. 


7.  How would eliminating the focus of what you are getting in life / situations change your attitude? 

 8.  How would focusing on giving (in terms of character traits such as kindness, consideration, patience, forgiveness, etc.) change your relationships? 
* Camilla Paglia’s article reference: