Learning to Say ‘No’ is Lesson in Itself

I opened my Writing Prompts book and read this:

“Write about a time you said ‘No.'”

I almost looked for another prompt, probably because the subject sounded boring, but the real reason is, I am afraid of it. I’m not good at saying no, but I can honestly say I am aware of my problem. As the saying goes, you have to pick your battles.

I, like everyone else, am a work in progress. No one is perfect, but we learn from our mistakes to become better versions of ourselves.

With that being said, I can tell you, I don’t say no very often. It’s not that I can’t, I just really want to help people when I can. And when I can’t, I find a way to gently tell them no.

There was a time when I couldn’t say no because I felt powerless; I was afraid of making people mad, afraid they wouldn’t accept me as I was, afraid they would reject me. I wanted to be liked so much, I became a doormat, and did things I didn’t want to do just to please that person.

I became a people-pleaser. Like the term co-dependent, I hate the term people-pleaser, because it’s a label, and doesn’t do much to help the person in these situations. All it does is undermine your self-respect, self-esteem, and confidence. I should know. People have been labeling me my whole life.

“You’re a pest, you’re accident prone, you break everything you touch…”

I am a nice person. I am generous. I love to help people. This is the way God made me.

I have a hard time saying no because I want to change the world, but it doesn’t mean I don’t say no. Which bring us to my prompt for today:

As a parent, we tell our kids ‘no’ all the time. As an employee, we try not to say no too much or the boss will think we’re a slacker. So when was a time I said no, because I didn’t want to do something I didn’t want to do?

My daughter recently asked me to drive my grandson back to Des Moines and I didn’t want to.

I know I shouldn’t need an excuse, but I really didn’t have the time.

Does that count?

She might have been disappointed, but she didn’t say or show it. However, I told her I could help out when I had more time, a promise she took me up on.

Maybe the reason I don’t like to say no is because I hate to disappoint people I care about. I know how it feels. And disappointment sucks.

I know I’m not responsible for people’s feelings; it’s another mindset I am in the process of changing. But if I have the chance to bring a little sunshine to someone’s gloomy day, I’m going to try hard as hell to make it happen.

It’s a fine-line: I want to help people, but I don’t want to feel like a doormat ever again. Some people take advantage of kindness, and others see it as a weakness.

I’m not going to stop being kind. But I am learning to say no those who don’t appreciate it.


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