Learning when to say “no”

Learning when to say “yes” and when to say “no” can be tricky even for the most well-rounded person. I am still working on this one but have come a long way. I have learned it is important to listen to myself and know what I need so that I can provide an honest answer. I have learned that I am not doing myself or anyone else a favor by saying “yes” when I really mean “no”.

For me now, there is a sorting process. First, I need to figure out what I really want, which isn’t as easy it sounds. Second, I need to determine whether I really care one way or another about the issue at hand. If not, then it really doesn’t matter either way. Third, I need to figure out if my answer is fear-based. If I am saying “yes” because I am afraid to stand up for myself, then I need to work through that. If I am saying “no” because I am afraid to do something that I really want to do, then I need to push past my comfort zone.

One of my favorite comedians, Jim Carrey, who has admitted to having bouts of depression, has starred in two hilarious movies, The Mask and Me, Myself and Irene ,that both illustrate what can happen over time when someone suppresses his own needs in lieu of everyone else’s. I can relate to a few of the scenes where his alter ego has had enough and takes over, full force. This approach does not always end well, as you will see from the first clip. Toward the end of my marriage when I’d had enough, the uglier side of me came out on many occasions before realizing it was time to call it quits.

Last, there are times when it may be in my best interest to say “yes” even when I want to say “no”. Rejecting a directive from my employer may seem like a good idea, but unless there is a moral issue at stake I may want to carefully consider whether it is worth declining. It doesn’t mean I can’t offer a thoughtful alternative, but if that doesn’t yield the outcome I hoped for, ultimately honoring their request might be the best option.

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6 thoughts on “Learning when to say “no”

  1. “the uglier side of me came out” – did someone else define this as your ugly side or did you? I find the parts of me I suppressed because of an abusive mother, are not really ugly, or shameful, or bad. Just aspects of a normal personality, and I’m exploring them now, just the way you are.

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    • I agree. I had an abusive boyfriend who called me “ugly” and “vile” whenever I tried to set any kind of boundaries. Be careful that you’re not looking at yourself through someone else’s eyes when applying this language to yourself.

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  2. Wow, you make a great point. I didn’t think about it that way. I know that I struggle with aspects of my personality that I consider “ugly” because I grew up in the same kind of situation and stifled a lot. Good to be reminded that this expression is all a part of the exploration, and nice to have the support of someone else who is on that journey. Thank you.

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  3. Yep, these two little words are the hardest to learn. I had the hardest time telling people “No” without coming up for a reason why I was saying, “No” to people in an effort not to appear rude. But then I’d end up lying to them, which was just as bad… Eventually I had to take a Mary Poppins approach, “I never explain myself to anyone.” or something along those lines. Nowadays, it’s more like a Sheldon (from the Big Bang Theory) approach, “No reason, I just don’t want to.” ^_^

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