Even the Grinchiest of Grinches deep down inside, wants to be liked and accepted. The most hardcore, tatted up, ‘Eff you, I am who I am’ tough ass who marches to the beat of their own drummer isn’t totally comfortable with the idea that the essence of who they are, even if that person is difficult or isn’t thought of as basically a good person.
Most people don’t have such a tough exterior; even Katniss Everdeen cries a lot and does a lot of hiding in The Hunger Games and she’s pretty hardcore. In truth, most of us are a complicated mix of strong and tender. Women have an especially challenging time, for obvious reasons. It’s somehow less acceptable to be selfish, to put our careers on par with our children, to simply say, “You know what? I’m going to take a pass on making dinner tonight, you deal with it.” A lot of women don’t have a choice and are raising kids alone.
Regardless of where a woman is in her life however, saying no is tough. Why is it that, when asked to do something that we really don’t want to do, we usually end up saying yes? And when we do follow our gut and say no, something drops in our bellies, our heart lurches and we feel… bad?
Life, of course, is full of compromises. There is no getting around doing a bunch of things on a daily basis we aren’t jumping up and down to do: work, homework, laundry, dishes, waiting for buses, dealing with annoying people. It’s a grind sometimes, regardless of age or social strata. You think the Queen of England wants to get up every single day at almost 90 years old and put on her outfit – which probably isn’t very comfy – and go out and meet stranger after stranger after stranger and act like she wouldn’t rather be anywhere else? She lives a life of service and I would even be willing to bet that she gets to say no far less often than you do.
After we get past the things we absolutely have to do and get into the things we should, or could do, we shift into a gray area. When someone asks us to do something and in our heart of hearts we’d really rather not, what is the thought process that compels us to say yes anyhow? Sometimes it’s a selfish reason; we want to appear kind, smart, capable of handling many things at once. Sometimes, it’s insecurity; we don’t want the person to think we are self centered, lazy or like we don’t care. Of course, guilt is a great motivator, and so is peace. Sometimes it’s just not worth the potential conflict of denying a request.
Whatever the reason, I want to say to you that your time is the absolute most precious asset you possess. Time is the one thing you have a fixed and finite amount of. So every yes give, every thing you agree to, takes a little bit of that resource away. In those terms, a yes is a precious commodity. Let’s say your mom asks you to drive her to the airport. You don’t really want to do it. You’d rather read the really great book you just got, or go out to lunch with your boyfriend or hang out with your own kids. Now, your mom might be super appreciative of the ride and you could have a great conversation with her on the way there. Cool. But let’s say you kind of know that your mom will simply feel entitled to the ride and you are going be subjected with a list of complaints and little (or big) tirades in the car, Don’t do it. That’s right, just say no.
This does not make you a bad person. This does not make you selfish. The makes you a self-preservationist. This makes you clever about the allocation of your very valuable time. If you know the person is not going to appreciate you going out of your way, if you know the favor you are granting will not be acknowledged or commented upon, then where is it in the rule book that says we have to do it anyway? Of course we do things without needing to be patted on the back. We should do things without that acknowledgement, because sometimes according to the moral compass, it’s simply the right thing to do. Sometimes.
Even still, there are situations when we are asked to do something and we know that it will be appreciated, perhaps even needed. But if our batteries are low. If our morale is down and we need that time to just be with ourselves FOR WHATEVER REASON, it is okay to say, “No, I’m sorry, not today.” Like I said, every yes is a valuable commodity. You are your own best judge of what you need. Don’t let others impose their own impressions of what a good friend or partner or daughter or mother is on you. You are those things! And you will be even better when you have the time you need to experience who you are as an individual opposed to who you are in relation to everyone around you.
So follow your heart and your first instincts and not necessarily your conscience. You can always say Yes tomorrow.
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