top of page

The Origins of How to Say F*!# You Politely

Updated: Feb 23

Satya is a Sanskrit word meaning "truth" or "honesty", it is also the second of five "yamas" or behavioral codes in the yogic tradition.  Satya in this context can be further interpreted to mean speaking the truth in a sweet nature, one that does not cause harm or agitation.  The Manusmriti, the earliest Hindu text of laws, codes, and instructions says: "Speak what is true; speak the truth in a sweet way; do not say what is true but not sweet, nor say what is sweet but not true.  This is the eternal dharma." (Stern, 2019)  As stated by Eddie Stern in his book One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life, "The yamas refer to a behavioral code that is based on personal responsibility and how we apply ourselves to our relationships." 

When I came across this passage several months ago, I was struck by how closely it aligned with my idea of the term "how to say f*!# you politely", something I had comically mused about years ago as a potential name for a blog.  I could have just as easily called the blog "how to tell the truth" or "how to say no", as these would have been similar sentiments.  At its essence, it is referring to those times when we are compelled to say what we want to say, what needs to be said, as opposed to what they want to hear.  It is the knowing of, as well as the telling of, the truth, which as we will see is of utmost importance for individuals seeking to heal.  Anyone who has been in this situation knows that the executing of this truth telling—in a graceful manner—is no small task.  It requires a high degree of mindfulness and tact.  How to Say F U You Politely is my tipping of the hat to Mark Manson, author of the New York Times bestselling The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*!#: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.  Manson knows as well as I do that the bigger truths in life are more palatable when they are presented with some realness, humor, and grit.  We are not here to preach, but to express ourselves in a way that is honest and true, a way that aligns with our inner wisdom. 

Once you have accepted that the source of your pain is emotionally rooted and you begin to realize the extent to which you have overextended yourself, as well as the degree of self-betrayal you have perpetrated, you will likely have to learn to say no.  In the thick of my own healing I have often felt that "all I do is say no''.  At times it is actually quite comical how often we find ourselves in this situation and how unbelievably uncomfortable it can be, especially if we have always been "pathological people pleasers" as the author and Mindbody Spirit Consultant Steve Ozanich might say.  Many of us have spent our entire lives saying yes to everything, fearing the disapproval and disappointment of others.  As you will see, this is a recipe for creating chronic tension and pain, as well as disease, addiction, and mental illness.  As we learn to be true to ourselves and "just say no'', it is important that we frequently remind ourselves that saying no to someone else, is actually saying yes to ourselves, to what we truly want and need.  It quickly becomes very clear that we have been saying no to ourselves far too often. 

True healing is a much deeper process that seeks resolution of conflict, since most chronic pain is a defense against truth.                                                         -Steve Ozanich

Because we have always been those people who everyone else counts on to say yes, and to be there no matter how we actually feel, we have signed ourselves up for more and more of this in the future.  A humorous anecdote from my own life is that when I first very clearly realized what I needed to do in order to begin to heal from the intense chronic pain I had been experiencing at peak levels for months by that point, I set about to start saying no when it felt necessary.  Within the first year of making this decision, I was asked to officiate two weddings, something I had never done...  In the past my ego would have just basked in the glory of this role, but now that I was being honest with myself I only thought, "oh ya, the guy who is in intense chronic pain, experiencing debilitating levels of anxiety, and who has been through one storm of a relationship after another—none of which stood the test of time—is going to perform the sacred ritual of marrying two people!"  I had to say no, and to make things worse, I had already committed to both weddings, my dear Cousin's and my very own Mother's.  I had to explain to the best of my ability that I simply was not fit for the job.  Needless to say, the decision to say no weighed heavy on my heart for some time.  After a while, I was able to chuckle at the irony of the situation, and also able to see this as my own karma coming back to haunt me.  When you go around pretending to be a saint all the time, of course people are going to think of you for such a position!  I once heard Dr. Gabor Mate remark,  "if you don't know how to say no, your yeses don't mean anything at all." 

In short, How to Say F U You Politely: Satya Mindbody Spirit Health & Healing has been created to serve in the name of Truth.  We could call it truth healing, for when a person knows the truth and expresses that truth in their life, healing will surely be the result. It is important to draw a clear distinction between expressing one's self honestly, and simply expressing negativity, such as complaining, criticizing, or judging.  Another important aspect of Satya and possibly the most difficult—it certainly is for me—is the restraining of our expression in times where it is inappropriate.  There are times when we have to realize that no matter how wise, noble, or true what we have to say may be, it is still merely our opinion.  There are times when it is more effective not to voice our opinion, times when doing so could be considered to be interfering with another souls' journey.  Nearly 1500 years ago the Third Chinese Patriarch of Zen went as far as to write in his description of "The Great Way", "do not seek for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions."  

I now attempt to examine what the motivation is behind what I want to say so badly, I often find that it is self-serving, ego-inflating, and just plain uncaring and insensitive.  It takes a lot of practice to become skilled in discerning when it is time to express ourselves clearly and honestly, and when it is best to step back and allow things to unfold as they will.  When I first learned that the repression of negative emotions was the cause of my chronic pain, my initial reaction was to lash out, to indiscriminately express negativity in the world.  This does not work and actually causes further harm.  I have since begun learning to become aware of my own shadow; the dark, unconscious aspects of my psyche, and to not react and act on these emotions, effectively bringing them to the light.  This is the goal of How to Say F U Politely: Satya Mindbody Spirit Health & Healing, to provide and express truth in the spirit of Satya.

Self-honesty is the key to making progress & increasing well-being -David Hawkins, M.D.

Lastly, humor is crucial in healing. After all, life just can't possibly be that serious, can it? At some point we all have to decide whether we want to be "serious" or "sincere" in our relationship with life.

Love your struggle and remain free!

Stern, E. (2019) One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life, NORTH POINT PRESS


bottom of page