As a father, mother, partner, employee – have you found yourself saying…
“Why can’t he be a little disciplined and wake up early! I am tired of re-heating his breakfast!”
“Why can’t she do it herself and not be so damn lazy?! Why do other people have to do her work?”
“Why can’t he grow up and take care of himself…and not expect me to pamper to his every whim?!”
And then doing stuff for them anyway?
You do it – but then you feel frustrated, angry. Instead of feeling good about doing them a favor. Why?
Simple. What you actually wanted was to say ‘No’. Maybe because you are unable to do it, or just don’t want to do it. Doing it would be very frustrating, irritating, tiresome. Uncomfortable.
But then, the discomfort of saying ‘No’ is much higher.
Maybe because that makes you seem less helpful, less nice, less dutiful, less loving, less responsible, less ideal, less empathetic. So you feel guilty to say ‘No’.
You have been used to putting others before yourself. Because that is what helpful, dutiful, loving, empathetic people do. Saying ‘No’ would mean breaking this self-image. And becoming the opposite: uncaring, unhelpful, irresponsible, unempathetic, selfish.
And you cannot be that evil person!
And when the guilt of saying ‘No’ is much higher than the discomfort of saying ‘Yes’, you end up saying ‘Yes’. We go with the less painful consequence.
But even if it was us who said ‘Yes’ we do not want to own that choice.
So instead of saying “Hey, I don’t want to reheat breakfast multiple times. So get up by 8:30 am if you want hot breakfast” you say “You are indisciplined! And hence I have to reheat”.
You don’t have to. You choose to.
Try saying ‘No’. Surprising thing is – nothing bad happens! We think hell will break lose. But it doesn’t. We realize that saying ‘No’ is not a sin.
The exception is where we ourselves have made the opposite person too used to hearing a ‘Yes’.
They might be surprised when you say ‘No’. Irritated too. Like how you feel when your internet suddenly slows down. It’s normal – but still irritating. They might wonder that you have ‘changed’ suddenly…You will feel pangs of discomfort…but that’s alright 🙂
Creating a new normal always involves some friction.
So try saying…
“I would have loved to help. But I don’t have the time”
“No. Can you do it yourself please. I want to do something else.”
Our extreme discomfort of saying ‘No’ creates a worldview where saying ‘No’ means only one thing: We are bad, and the other person is hurt.
But there exists a worldview where people are used to and OK to hear ‘No’. It is normal.
When we see that possibility – the discomfort goes down. But only trying it out first hand can confirm the possibility.
You always have the right to say No’. But will you exercise it?
So try saying ‘No’. Do let me know if the sky falls down. 🙂