As a child you find yourself utterly dependent on the adults who are raising you. Everybody has been there. Society’s standard of a model child is that of a child who is ever so obedient to their parents and relevant authority figures. And an agreeable, receptive child is better accepted than a stubborn one. So children are taught to consistently say yes to every request that an adult makes of them.
What works for children effectively doesn’t necessarily produce the same results for an adult. It’s very easy to become a pushover as you grow older in an attempt to keep everyone happy at the cost of your comfort. We often forget that it is not our job to keep everyone happy; it is our job though to work in our best interest.
So how do you say no as an adult then? It’s quite simple really; just enunciate the word ‘NO’ clearly. There’s no better way. Personally for me, I have always operated within a utilitarian frame where I have put myself at the center of a situation and checked to see how profitable it would be for me to say no and then worked my way inside out to see how many people get rewarded by my choice.
And how often should you say no? Well, as often as you wish to. Ideally, people aspire for a utilitarian balance between constant affirmation and negation. The real exercise however is not about successfully saying no as an adult to other people’s requests, but the process of filtration that comes after it. You have to sieve through all the people you know and find the ones who can’t take ‘No’ for an answer.
An individual’s inability to say no is not a typically occurring hardwired instinct. It is a learnt behavior in response to how people around you punish you in small ways for saying no. People could mete out these punishments in different ways. And it could come from anywhere; it could be an overbearing father or a pushy friend you’ve known since school. If people don’t respect your choice you need to work with them or let them go because a lot rests on your ability to say no to people.
To develop a healthy amount of self-worth one needs to assertively establish their opinions and preferences. It goes without saying that we aren’t always in sync with our loved one’s plans. And that’s where it’s important to state what you need. Maybe you don’t want to go on a pilgrimage visit with your family, perhaps you can’t be the designated driver for your relatives from abroad for the weekend or you are through getting involved in your friend’s sordid break-up. Just say no. Remember, it’s okay to say no but it’s not okay to stick around people who can’t adapt and improvise around your concerns and needs. People who truly care about you would be able to respect all your choice irrespective of if they benefit out of it or not.
Our problems would be few and numbered if only we could all just learn to let go off people who prioritize their agaendas over our interests. Bending over backwards constantly to accommodate others is unnecessary and exhausting. So make sure to put resistance up when the situation calls for it.
By Clarin George