There was a time when I had a hard time saying no to people’s requests. Someone would ask a favor and, not wanting to disappoint them, I would agree to it. I’d say yes without thinking. Even if it was something that I absolutely did not want to do. Even if it was something that interfered with something I had already planned. I wouldn’t mind rearranging whatever it was so as not to disappoint.
All that changed when I hit full-on adulthood. I learned that it was okay to say no. I learned that I didn’t always have to seek someone else’s approval. I learned that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, whether they were disappointed or not. After I learned these things, it became a lot easier for me to say no. And I’ve been saying no a lot ever since.
In some ways, I’ve looked at saying yes to things as a way of quickly becoming someone’s welcome mat. They ask a favor, I say yes, and they’ve then been conditioned to know that I’ll agree to whatever it is that they want. I then become weak. I then become used.
In some ways, I’ve let the word no keep me safe. No keeps me at a comfortable distance from those around me. It keeps me secured inside those psychological walls that I’ve spent years building up. But at the same time, I find that it keeps me from experiencing a lot of the great things that life has to offer.A few years ago, a friend of mine had the idea that a group of us would take a road trip. The plan was to take a couple days, drive up to South Bend, Indiana, take in a Notre Dame football game, then drive back. In the end, only he and one other went. While I was invited, I said no.
I rationalized. I had to work on the weekend in question. I could have asked for the time off, but I didn’t. I was still new to the second job at the time, so I didn’t want to make waves just yet. I could have rearranged my plans. Instead I worked the few hours that were required of me. I went back home. I did the same things that I do with pretty much every other average weekend.
And the two guys that went? They had a blast. They came away with great stories worth telling for the next few years. I got to hear about it on the phone after the fact.
Now I’m learning that saying yes doesn’t necessarily make one a pushover. Saying yes can open up one’s life to new possibilities The people that say yes are the ones that get to have adventures. The people that say yes are the ones that get to tell stories. They get to tell true stories of real events that actually happened to them.
Guess it’s time to learn how to discern between the times I should say yes and the times I should say no.