How to Have a Positive Mindset When Someone Tells You No

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by Ari Anderson |

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Main graphic for "Soaring With Hope," a column by Ari Anderson

You have to be in an introspective mood to examine your own flaws and weaknesses. It takes both maturity and courage, neither of which come easy. I don’t like to do it any more than all of you, but bravery is often rewarded with riches beyond comparison.

By riches, I mean an increase in joyous moments throughout life. As far as weaknesses, what’s my Achilles’ heel? Like everyone, I have quite a few, but the one I’m thinking of now can be summed up in one word: no.

A year ago, I wrote about how I take it as a personal rejection when people tell me no when I want or need something. Sometimes I get caught up in trying to fly as high as I can to reach my dreams and goals. When people tell me, “Yes, I will help you achieve what you’re striving for,” it gives me the fuel I need to soar. When people say, “No, I can’t help you,” it weighs on me, and my spirit starts to descend.

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Self-advocacy and survival

When I hear a lot of no’s from people, I have to cling to my faith to keep from crashing. I’m not just talking about my ambitions, but also my survival. With SMA, my ambitions keep me alive. Without my get-up-and-go attitude, for example, I’d never have the energy or patience to advocate for the lifesaving program Private Duty Nursing (PDN), a skilled nursing care program for qualifying Medicaid beneficiaries.

This is especially true when I’m writing the 500th email to policymakers explaining why I and others need PDN nurses in our homes to survive. Receiving a reply stating, “No, I still don’t understand why you need the program to survive,” can be a downer, to say the least. Prayers for continued guidance and patience usually follow.

When others tell you no, it helps to tell yourself yes. That keeps your dreams alive. It also teaches self-sufficiency, which everybody needs at times.

Those who say yes

At other times, everyone needs somebody. Sometimes there’s no substitute for someone saying, “Yes, I recognize your needs, and I want to help.”

My goal now is to focus on the people who have said yes to me instead of the ones who haven’t. For instance, home-care nurses are scarce. For the past year, my mom has had to take over my care on most weekends. During the week, she works up to 50 hours at a hospital. Many would call that a full plate and crawl into bed on the weekends.

But instead of doing that, my mom has been dealing with a second full plate — for 12 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays — by giving me aggressive care. That’s up to 74 hours of work a week!

Also, when I say aggressive care, I mean giving me at least two Vest machine treatments a day on the weekend, lasting an hour each. That’s just for starters. This past summer, she’s had to give me even more life-supporting care because I was sick a lot.

In a recent column, I talked about how some parents don’t have the will to learn proper care for their child with chronic medical needs. If my mom didn’t say yes to taking on more of my care, it would’ve resulted in me going to a medical facility, where I would’ve had zero chance of survival without one-on-one care.

Thank God, it seems that we’ve recently found a weekend nurse to take the pressure off my mom.

But what about the people who aren’t family and have said yes to me? This happened last year, when a nurse not only said yes, but also rearranged her entire life for me. She was a day nurse we’d recently hired. She never thought of working nights. But when she saw us struggling to find someone to cover nights, she decided to become a superhero and come to our rescue. She valiantly changed her waking hours from days to nights, which is extremely hard to do. Now she’s working three to four nights a week for us.

So I stand by what I said last year about saying yes to yourself when others tell you no. Just remember not to focus only on those who respond negatively. Otherwise, you may overlook those who support you. Give them an extra thank you. It will make their spirit soar, along with yours!

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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