People struggle to say “no.” Women more so than men.
It comes from lack of self esteem. We do not consider our needs to be important enough to place them first. We have been raised with messages that have taught us that a “good” woman or a “nice” woman is self sacrificing and always thinks of the needs of others. Add to that a healthy dose of religion and the idea that we should always serve others and you have the recipe used to make most people miserably unhappy.
The cycle is that people get hurt that no-one ever thinks of them. “No-one” has any idea really that these people have any needs, and if they care enough to consider that they must, they have no idea what those needs are because these people never tell us.
It is important for people to know who they are. It is important for them to be able to express who they are and therefore be able to ask for what they want. We teach children to “use their words.” Perhaps we should be saying that to more adults.
My grand daughter is here from Canada on a work holiday that she is privileged to enjoy because of the good will of her father and the agreement between Australia and Canada. She is seeing a lot and learning plenty about what other people’s lives are liked. Along with all the exciting new things she is being exposed to, she is also learning about what she already knows. She is learning about who she is, and who she is not. And as she experiences familiar things that are not as deep and meaningful as those situations back home, she is learning what she wants in her life. It will enable her to eventually return home and to fully embrace the wonderful things in her life that she had no real understanding of before. I say that because you cannot even realize how bright a light is until you see it in the darkest night. We need comparisons. We need contrast. It gives us context.
Once she knows who she is and what she wants she will know how to navigate her life because life is not always some big grandiose plan that we follow step by step in a straight line. Life is more often a series of small decisions we make each day that inch us further forward.
If you want to do something then say “yes” and embrace the opportunity. If you do not want to do something then say “no.” You do not have to come up with an excuse. You can simply say “no,” and if someone can not accept that you have a right to make decisions for yourself then they are probably not someone you need in your life. Of course there are times when we do things we do not want to do because we love someone, or we feel we need to do it BUT allow yourself that distinction.
This has been a long lesson for me but I say “no” now without guilt or apology. I am not responsible for the other person’s anger if I cannot. I look at it exactly as Stephen Covey stated. This is not some big catastrophe. I am not going to hell because I won’t do something. I am making a choice. The choice is for me and my life. I am completely in charge of both those things. I mother me. I take care of me. I make sure that “me” is getting what she needs and getting to where she needs to go. Others and their needs are opportunities that I frequently take. I say “yes” way more than I ever say “no.” AND I enjoy every moment of my “yes” and I build on those experiences.
Nothing is worse than saying “yes” and being resentful at the person who asked, the people involved in the task, and most of all myself. Nothing is worse than realizing I am now further behind on what I needed to be doing, or that I missed out on something I needed to be doing.
So shift the paradigm. You are not saying “no” to the person, or to life, or your mother or your religious beliefs. You are saying “Yes” to you!