Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Art of Saying "No"

I'm guessing your life is full of people who constantly ask you for some "thing" (money, time, energy, sex, etc). 

It's hard to say no when you're a people pleaser. It's hard to say no when you feel a sense of expectation or obligation. It's hard to say no when you desperately desire to be liked, loved, or validated by another human being. 

Once upon a time, I found saying "no" to be a much-dreaded task; now, I find it utterly liberating. 

To be clear, I don't expect any of us to say "no" to everything -- that would be extremely selfish. To cultivate a spirit of gratitude and generosity, we must also be willing to "do unto others as we want done unto us", which means saying yes to requests and opportunities to serve (volunteering time and energy to varying causes, helping others with problem-solving needs, etc) when possible. The key is learning how to balance your yes or no responses appropriately. 

It's easier to know when to say yes -- a health emergency in the family and money needs to be pooled together for medical bills; a friend applying for new job postings in need of people to list as references on his/her CV; a supervisor asking you to complete a work task clearly outlined in your job description as part of your responsibilities. On the other hand, it can prove much more difficult to know when it is "right" to say no. 

With that being said, instinct is a wonderful thing. 

I have learned to rely on it much more now than I ever did in the past. When someone asks something of me, I usually take a moment to check within myself to determine if my initial reaction is an easy yes and I feel at peace. If I don't and instead feel conflicted or unhappy for a prolonged period about it, then 9 out of 10 times it means I should respond with a "no". I give a great example in the post STORYTIME: How I Almost Got Expelled From University when I should have responded with a no, not yes. 

In many instances, a "no" is required for ones physical, emotional, and mental health / wellbeing. 

The truth is you cannot be everything to everybody; you're only one person. This truth will not always sit well with folks and that is A-OK. There will never be a time when you can please all people; the more you try, the more frustrated and resentful you're likely to become. Now I can't tell you when or when not to respond with a yes or no in your life; however, I can tell you that from personal experience, the sooner you start exercising your "no" muscle, the more courageous and happier you'll find yourself to be, with your sanity intact...ideally :) 

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  1. Really powerful, Ada. I too had the problem of saying no when I was much younger. Nowadays, the problem is not as chronic as before. I remember in my college days, I'd be broke before the end of the month because I was always lending money to my friends who did not consider it a priority to repay me back as at when agreed. I was always helping friends who took out their parent's cars and bashed it and needed it fixed before their parents could discover what happened. I was just too loyal.

    Nowadays, I try to discern exactly what the intentions of the person asking really are. Turns out that some people ask you to do things for selfish reasons. Some people serially refuse to listen to advice and when they get into a tight fix, they come running to you.

    I also try to discern the character of the person is. Some people lead an ostentatious or even frivolous lifestyle, never caring about saving, never caring about tomorrow, never caring about the rainy day. These types would earn far more than me but would come borrowing from me because they need to support their bad spending habits. Again, its easy to say no to these types.

    Anyways, just as you've said, I would learn to trust my instincts all the more.

    1. "I remember in my college days, I'd be broke before the end of the month because I was always lending money to my friends who did not consider it a priority to repay me back as at when agreed."

      Oh, I remember more than a few cases of that in my own life, Don :)

      Cheers to us both trusting our instincts more!