The older ones among us in the USA remember when no black person could sit on certain buses, live in certain neighborhoods, go to certain schools, eat in certain restaurants, and use certain bathrooms. What were those NO’s all about? In the USA we explain it with descriptive words such as prejudice, segregation, and racism. Elsewhere it has been called apartheid. But if you are that person who actually is living that NO, what is NO all about?
In those awful times when a person says NO to someone’s sexual invitations, advances, impositions, or attacks, and the other does not listen to that NO, what is happening? The will and desire of one person does not correspond with the will and desire of another. And what happens touches the victim so profoundly and strongly. What is that NO all about?
What happens in the animal world with NO? Some ontological coaches maintain that animals do not make such realities as requests and promises because they do not live in time nor have the human capacity for linguistic commitment. Let’s take a very quick look at that, as well. Wild animals like mountain lions and elk do what they do without having any existential crises or psychological issues about NO. Try budging an elephant or a mule when they simply don’t want to move. Those who have attempted to put their domesticated cats into a little box to go somewhere usually are confronted with what we humans would easily identify as a NO. What is there in the being of an animal’s NO that we only call instinct as opposed to linguistic? What is an animal’s NO all about?
Perhaps our looking for explanations, reasons, and justifications for NO is somehow related to how we have, for centuries, constituted our being human. What is it in our being that reverberates with NO?
In order to get to something we do not readily see, we have to remove the veil of talking about choice. This is without a doubt very important in coaching; recognizing the freedom to choose is a monumental step in many people’s lives. Reflecting on the ramifications and implications that in our every moment we are making choices opens up new worlds of possibilities for our daily relating and living. Yet, as important as any conversation about choice may be, it too may limit our truly knowing NO. Let’s take another look at the examples we used above.Download Article 1K Club