Growing up, I somehow managed to learn that the word “no” was a negative word. I’m pretty sure it at least originated with my mother, who also taught me that “being nice” and being liked by others were two extremely important things. Saying “no” means that people might somehow perceive you as being “not nice” and less likable, right? So no isn’t something that should be said that often.
Well, you can guess how that worked out for me. I ended up being an adult with poor boundaries, who often said “yes” first, ended up regretting it, and then somehow lying to get out of whatever I’d agreed to. And when you’re a person with crappy boundaries to begin with, sometimes even when you do say no, that no gets trampled, and you get bulldozed by a disrespectful person with their own agenda.
I’m 40 years old and I reluctantly admit that I still have difficulty saying no, particularly when it comes to certain people. I still have a desire to be seen as easy-going and accommodating. I still want to be liked and seen as a good person, even though a positive opinion of someone else doesn’t actually mean that you ARE a good person. Perception really has little to do with reality.
Yesterday I found myself presented with an opportunity. I was in a situation where I really wanted to say no to something/someone, but there was that little voice in the back of my head warning me that I “should be nice” and say yes, even though I really, really didn’t want to. And to be 100% honest, the individual making the request didn’t deserve to have me be nice to them “just because”. This individual is wholly undeserving of my “niceness”, despite what I sometimes tell myself. Because also? “Being nice” to said person doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to return that niceness. In fact, the person in question often looks as my acts of kindness as opportunities to take advantage, or at least has in the past.
Yesterday, I took a deep breath and told this person “no”. Flat out. Maybe it will affect their opinion of me, and maybe it won’t. The thing I need to remember is that my self-worth isn’t based on their thoughts of me. I need to remind myself of this fact much more often.
And you know what? Saying “no” when that’s what you really want to say is pretty damned empowering. WAY more than being a dancing monkey to try and get others to like you, that’s for sure.
I’m already looking forward to saying no more often.