The Art of Saying No: When Will I Learn?
I am rarely ever opposed to being vocal about how selfish I believe my younger brother to be. His attitude is self-preservation above all else. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll do the occasional favor or two, but at the end of the day it is all about his wants, his needs, his pleasure, his car, and his girlfriend. But can you really blame him? That seems to be all most guys care about at 19 years old. I on the other hand am the exact opposite. I am always putting others before myself. I live, eat, and breathe with a favor or two, or three on my to-do list. People call on me for all kinds of favors from babysitting to borrowing money and somehow no matter how hectic my life may be at the moment I find it in me to muster up a yes.
But, lately I’ve been pondering why my response is always yes when the majority of the time the person inside of me is screaming “HELL NO!” While I believe my little brother’s selfishness to be a tad obnoxious, I can’t help but to admit that I secretly admire his ability to say no. On any given week, I can list at least three to five things that I’ve agreed to do, which I have absolutely no desire to carry out. I often find myself walking away after agreeing to do something asking myself, “Why in the world did I just agree to that?” I mean is it really that difficult to utter one of the shortest words in the English language? It has gotten to the point where I am starting to believe that people have learned to play on my inability to say no. While some would say that I need to just get a backbone and learn to pass on some things, I can’t help but to believe that there’s more to it than that. As time progresses, I am slowly realizing that my inability to say no is unhealthy. It’s very stressful, and of course, enough stress can make you ill. How productive can I actually be to the commitments of my own life when I am constantly carrying out tasks and doing favors assigned (not even “asked” mind you) by others?
After much deliberation, research, and a close analysis of my personal interactions, I have come to realize that my struggle with the word no comes from my desire to not deal with the consequences that could arise after I release my “no” into the atmosphere. I’d much rather inconvenience myself than to disappoint, hurt someone’s feelings, or cause confrontation. Let’s just call it what it is: I’m a people pleaser.
For example, at this very moment that I’m writing this piece, I’m facing the struggle of trying to meet several deadlines for school, six to be exact. At the same time that I am juggling multiple homework assignments from six different classes, I am also babysitting my four-year-old godson. I have an aunt on one line asking if I can babysit my little cousin for a few hours this weekend, a sister on the other line asking if I can keep my niece overnight, another family member asking if I will accompany them to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a few requests from several members of my church, and a cooky cousin clogging my voicemail box asking if I can help her create a Facebook page for the family reunion that she’s planning. *Sighs*
In the midst of my frustrations, I can’t help but to think that my brother would never have this problem. That carefree individual would’ve simply declined and been on his merry way. Actually, people would have known not to ask him for a favor in the first place. I can’t even place the blame on those around me for the millions of favors that I am asked to do on a daily basis. It is my own fault for not being stern enough to say no, and while I don’t believe they’d love me any less if I declined, it still doesn’t take away my desire to refrain from disappointing them.
I find it ironic that as I am facing my demons with the word “no” by writing this article, I am also being brought to a crossroads in my personal life. I can either go left or I can go right. I can appease all of the people around me by granting the requests they’ve made and possibly lose my mind AND miss my school deadlines at the same time, or I can find a no from deep within and put myself first as I should have done a long time ago.
Are you someone who is always doing for others and doesn’t know when and how to say no?
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