The power of saying ‘No’

Some time ago, I was standing with people from my family I didn’t know who invited me to meet them. They had called my phone, insisted that they need me and I was at their house after half an hour. Once on that day, I realized I did not want to be there so I thought I’d changed my mind. But what was ridiculous was that I was there in the first place. Why was it that I so often said ‘yes’ when what I actually meant to say was ‘no’?

My need to please has been exhausting: I have gone to places I didn’t want to go and said things I didn’t want to say, all to please whoever I was with at the time. I’m sure it stems from being high-tolerance person, which meant I subconsciously thought I must be grateful and set my own needs aside to keep everyone else happy. Annoyingly, I carried this trait into adulthood. When I got to my early year of 20’s, I was intimating with people more, and didn’t stand ground on something they asked me to do. And now, somewhere out there is a recording of me saying the words ‘I’m fine’. It’s so excruciating, it makes my blood spoil indeed.. What annoys me is that I didn’t say no at those times – a common theme for most of my life. That is, until now.

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My light- bulb moment came recently, a result of observing people around me. Because of the good intention in the first place I have, people feel they need to please me and do what I ask and realized how uncomfortable this makes me feel. I like honest people who treat me on a level. So why was I behaving in the exact opposite way myself?  My journey into the land of NO has been further inspired by my dad.  He never says yes when he actually means no. This doesn’t make him mean – it makes him sincere, attentive to the things he says yes to and, crucially, happy. He always encourages me to ‘just say no’ when stewing over yet another uncomfortable situation, either in my career, with a friend, or with a window cleaner waving his squeegee at me in my bedroom.

I used to think if I treated people the way I’d like to be treated it would eventually come back positively to me, but it doesn’t mean that at all. What it means is that people take advantage of you, or make you say things which you don’t really mean or keep you from meeting work deadlines while offloading every detail of their lives but never thinking to ask how you are doing.

What I have learned is that you should treat people according to how they treat you, stand your ground at work, ensure your relationships are equal, not be a yes person for the sake of it and take pride in saying no. Has this new attitude made my life easier and happier? Unequivocally, yes. Was I really getting lots of fun at the time of  spending with ppl? Unfortunately, no.

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