How to say “No.”

Posted on April 13, 2015

It is not easy. But a huge part of Self Care is being able to say “no”.

As little girls, we are taught to be polite. To come up with other answers. To skirt the issue. To internalize all the natural responses, feelings and truths. We need to be mindful of other people’s feelings. We need to consider all options. We must find a way to please the other person and keep the boundaries undefined instead of clear. Just in case.

“Are you enjoying school?” an auntie would ask. I would want say, “No. I hate it, actually. I suck at sports, I’m the last one picked for every team. I’m painfully shy. I don’t understand math. I’m the first one on the stupid bus and the last one off.”

This was not an acceptable answer.

Instead we are groomed to focus on the positive and provide an answer that is pleasing to the ears of the other person. For example, “I got an A in Language Arts and my bookworm is one of the longest.” (The bookworm was a smiley-faced worm made of paper; we would personalize it by colouring a segment, then with each new book we read we’d colour and add another segment advertising our literary prowess for all to see on the bulletin board.) This would be as painful for the non-readers as gym class was for me.

Anyway, all this focussing on the positive can lead to an inability to recognize the negative when it really counts. The lines get blurry and it becomes tricky to remember where we actually stand. And stand we must, in our own power, doing what is right for us. Not our bosses, not our husbands, not even our kids; sometimes we have to say “no” and do what is right only for us. But it’s hard. Until it’s not.

I had to say “no” to something recently. It caused me stress and anguish. I turned myself inside out and tied myself in knots even though I knew the answer in my heart the entire time. It is because I am still learning to accept that it is impossible to please everyone all the time. In life we must sometimes say “no” and move on. Bravely. Confidently. Unapologetically.

That is, if you want to Live Life Beautifully. ♥