permission to say “no”

Jenifer and I often have talks about how many people lack the concept of personal responsibility, whether for large or small things. There are people that can never make a decision, hoping (and sometimes knowing) that others will always do it for them, and there are others that no matter what they do, if it turns out poorly, it’s always someone else’s fault.

She and I love to hang out and do stuff, go out to eat, have a happy hour, see a movie, whatever it might be, and we’re the people that seem to be expected in a social group to arrange things. We don’t naturally take charge from the outset, but we end up taking charge because it feels like others may not care too much once the inital idea has been agreed upon. It’s frustrating, but I guess a natural social phenomenon in groups. Still don’t fail to or be afraid to be a leader, you won’t butt that many heads, and it will show others that you actually care about the things you do, instead of waiting to be told what to do or where to eat or when to show up.

Something else that came up recently and has been burning doughnuts in the parking lot of my mind for a while is the in/ability to say “no.” There are so many reasons that some people are unwilling to say they don’t want to do something. In my case its that I don’t ever believe the person asking me considered that the answer would be anything other than yes. To me, “no” should be the end of most requests, there shouldn’t be a “why not?” to follow it up. And it’s the presumption of the “why not” that causes me to avoid saying “no” – with an ex it was the opening to “now you must justify to me exactly why you will not do the thing I asked… and (not or) now there will be a fight.”

Obviously there are times when one must justify a refusal, I can’t just decide not do something at the office because I don’t feel like it. And there are times when “no” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, even though it still might be valid, asking me to pick something up for you at the store when I’m already going isn’t totally off-base (unless, as in past situations it was pricy and I knew I’d never get paid back for it). And no one likes being told no, but what’s the difference in the times we look at ourselves for the reason of the refusal or when we blame it on the other person. If I’m told no in response to a job application, I’d most likely think it was my qualifications over thinking that the company’s full of assholes.

This started in my mind, because I often hold a lot back. It isn’t a lack of desire to share with others, but sometimes not wanting to hurt someone. Recently a friend had planned an evening of me-time, and someone called them up wanting to hang out because of a recent breakup. This friend rarely takes the time out for themselves that they need and I told them to say no. They asked, “can i just do that? say no?” and I said “yes. i’m giving you permission.”

I realize that there are situations where for the well-being of all involved, I must learn to simply say no, and I must also allow myself to hear the word no from others… and be ok with it. Oh and I must stop using the phrase, “It’s ok if you don’t want to.” as it has an inherent statement of, “I really don’t want you to say no.”

On a side note, I must start setting time aside at home for writing so I don’t get a bug in my brain at the office and take time out like this for a mental spillage via keyboard.

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