• Kirsten Johnston

The nope card

Updated: Jan 18

I gave my brother-in-law a new game on the market called Exploding Kittens. In order to win, one must avoid being blown up and be the last person standing. If the player before you lays down an action card that operates to your detriment you are in trouble unless you are in possession of the delightfully-named nope card. The nope card is a flat refusal to act as instructed. It renders ineffectual the action of the presented request and you are free to continue your turn.

I feel it would be useful to have a nope card in life – a totally accepted way to say no thank you, to negate unpleasant circumstances, to gain another chance. No, I am not able to help. No, I won’t accept that. No, this is not the end of the line.

Saying no in our society can be difficult if you are the sort of person that doesn’t like to let others down. There are times, however, when financial, physical, temporal or emotional resources will not allow further involvement or output and an elegant and graceful no will be required. In the absence of a nope card, we must find the strength to say that for ourselves.

In an old episode of the TV series Friends, Phoebe Buffay is asked whether she will help Ross Geller move house. She delivers the wonderful response ‘I’d love to, but I don’t want to.’ It is elegant and is amusing enough to cause no offence. She does not beat herself up about letting Ross down. She has made an honest appraisal and come up with a perfect answer to the question.

The concept of self-care and self-protection is gaining traction. Being able to say no when the affirmative would result in negative impacts on one’s physical and mental health is becoming more acceptable. So, arm yourself with a nope card. It’s nothing personal. It’s just a card.

Until later,



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