Remember when Beyoncé sang ‘the first time I said no, it’s like I never
said yes’? Well it seems that some of us are still wary of the
challenges that answering those around us with a defiant ‘no’, can
presents us with.
Just the other week I was faced with this very dilemma. A friend of mine
who I had not been in contact with for some time, asked to meet and
catch up – to which I obliged. Everything went plain sailing, and I was
actually pleased that they had taken the time to get in touch again –
until they asked to borrow a large sum of money a couple of days later
that is. Now, my head was telling me that the ulterior motive could have
been there from the start, and the desire to ‘catch-up’ was just an
opportunity to soften me up. My heart however, had its strings pulled
vigorously by my people-pleasing nature, and my fear that this person
would be angered if I dared to tell them that I wouldn’t be lending them
the money on this occasion. According to Social Psychologist, Susan
Newman, Ph.d, it is that need to keep those around us happy, that makes
saying no so daunting:
She also states that our inclination towards saying yes, can also stem from our conditioning of obedience from our childhood:
‘NO has been drummed out of us to the point where using it has negative
connotations and imagined backlash. When you were a child, you were
probably sent to your room for refusing to share your toys; as a teen
your curfew was cut back if you disobeyed a parent’s rule. Agreeing and
saying yes is ingrained, particularly in women who were raised to be
nurturing and available, but you can retrain how you think. Saying NO is
a learned skill, one that allows you to refuse without hurting or
offending and without feeling guilty.’
So how do you say no without feeling guilty?
Think of the times you sad yes
Acknowledging all those occasions that you have done favours for others
will help to diminish feelings of guilt, by reminding yourself of all
the good that you have already done.
Have faith in the other person
the main fear for a people pleaser. Try giving them more credit and
trusting that they value your relationship as much as you do. After all,
why would you feel guilty about not helping someone who may not think
saying no to you?
Putting your love for yourself first
advantage of your kind nature. By putting your love for yourself and
your entitlement to respect first, you will not allow yourself to say
yes to people who view you as a doormat.
Accept that you can’t please everyone all the time
unrealistic one. Time may be limited, and money does not grow on trees.
Recognise that you can not always please everyone and allow some of the
weight to fall off your shoulders. Make sure that you have enough time
for things that you want to do, and make decisions about how you spend
your time and money wisely.
Sometimes we try to take on more than we can deal with in order to save
face and refrain from disappointing others, but it often results in us
forgetting about our own needs, and being blind to instances of
manipulation. There is nothing wrong with wanting to please those around
you, it is just about getting the balance right – something I am also
trying to figure out. Oh and in case you was wondering about the
friend…the answer was no.