Last week we introduced the importance of being able to say No. For the purpose of our discussion this week we are talking about people with equal status in the relationship. This does not include parent-child, teacher-student, or employer-employee. These relationships have different guidelines for dignity. The relationships we are talking about are people out in the world negotiating life. People chatting on the Internet, attending school, in social situations, in family relationships other than the parent-child need to include the ability to say No in their quest for dignity. If you are afraid to say No in an equal status relationship, it is time to re-evaluate. Do not say no if you fear physical violence. If you were raised with abuse, addictions, or extreme dysfunction it may not have been safe to say No. If you are out of those situations it is time to learn how to say No.
It is important to say No without a story or excuse. If you think about the excuses you use, they almost always make you a victim. Illness is an overused story for not wanting to do something. “I don’t feel well, I’m tired, I didn’t sleep well, I’m too busy, etc.” are some other excuses. Even if any of these are true, learn to say No with dignity not with excuses. “No, I can’t do that, thanks for asking, I hope you’ll ask me again.”
One symptom that you are saying yes when you mean No is resentment. If you get angry with the people who make requests of you, it is also a sign that you probably have difficulty saying No. If you avoid relationships, run away or disappear in relationships you probably have the “yes” disease. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. Who wants all those people around you who only like you because you say yes?
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