I used to work in Pittsburgh’s South Side as a bouncer (For those of you not familiar with this area, just imagine one long street filled with bars and drunk college students… great times.) I eventually moved up to a bartender but started as the door guy. One time I threw a kid into a brick wall because he was peeing on my car… I’d probably do it again.

I picked up some good things working there. You might have found this out already but you need a pretty thick skin to walk through life. Life will lay a serious beating on you and if you can’t take it, you’ll eventually just submit.

Submitting kind of looks like working a job you hate or marrying someone you don’t really love. The more practice you have at gaining a tougher skin the better. This is where stepping out of comfort zones comes into play. I’m a pretty laid back guy, unless you pee on my car obviously, and when I saw someone get kicked out of the bar my first day there, it was a very new experience for me. I was definitely uncomfortable sitting next to Austin when he stood up to tell the hopeful patron that had already drank too much that he wasn’t coming in.

Being in this position for some time taught me the value of the word “no” and how to stand behind it. Not just with drunk people begging to be let in for the two-dollar beer special, but anything that I’m faced with that requires a strong “no”.

We are naturally terrified to say the word “no”.

Through our developmental years what word was associated with a type of punishment? “No.” We don’t like that word because as kids it meant we were gonna get a beating if mom had to say “no” one more time. We have to dissociate “no” with it’s original association of a punishment event and create a new association with it being a freeing event. It’s kind of easy to create a new association. Simply reward yourself when you’ve said “no”. If you didn’t say “no” when you know you should have, the task that follows will clearly be punishment enough. Just be aware of the torture while you’re sitting at that dinner you never wanted to go to. With that person you never want to talk to. Ever. Again.

If we say “no” that must mean we stand behind something fully and are not willing to sway. Even if saying it means letting down someone we care about. Or even someone we don’t particularly care about! How crazy is it that we find ourselves doing things for people we don’t even like!

We live too swayed. Too impressionable. We know what we want to do but we won’t say “no” to someone pulling us away from it.

Also, the timing of this job offer was somewhat divine. At the time I was still living in my attic apartment and working on my biology degree. I was painfully broke and I think I had like six dollars to my name. I was pretty stressed and then just decided to stop and trust it would work out. Almost immediately at that moment, when I decided to trust things would somehow work, my friend called me and asked if I could work a shift as a bouncer. It paid sixty dollars at the end of the night.

That experience as a bouncer taught me the power of the word “no” and also to trust that the path I’m on will provide what I need.

If we didn’t say “no” to drunk maniacs at the door, they’d come in, start fights and trash the place. If we don’t say “no” to certain people we let in our lives and our hearts, they come in, start fights, and trash the place.

If I didn’t trust the path would provide, I would have quit school and went back to working in the pizza shop (a job I severely hated.) Especially when times got as hard as they did. How different might my life look now if I had given up then?

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