“The invitations are in the mail, but the impending marriage is a mistake. The job looks good to the rest of the world, but it’s making you sick in the morning. Your family has sacrificed to pay the tuition, but law school feels like a poor fit. When you find yourself going down the wrong road, No is the power necessary to turn yourself around.” *
Growing up I always considered myself a people pleaser. I think most people can say that making other people happy makes them happy. But I have found myself in so many situations wondering “why did I agree to this.” I’ve learned that being a people pleaser is why I struggle with being indecisive. When asked what I want to do or eat or where I want to go… I have no idea. I fear other people not liking my decision so I’d rather not make one.
At some point in my life this changed. It was definitely a gradual change, but I don’t think I’d call myself a people pleaser anymore. I do enjoy pleasing people, but I love myself too much to put myself back in that category.
I’m a dancer and a graphic designer. I’ve quickly learned that these are two professions that can easily get taken advantage of. People seem to think I can whip up a dance or design for them for free, with little notice, and make it exactly how they want. I don’t like to put anything out there of mine that isn’t good. So even when I do perform or design for free, I give it my all because no matter what the pay involved is, the work represents me. Also when doing something for free, I make sure whoever I’m doing the favor for is aware of my busy schedule and understands my priorities. I also turn things down when I don’t have time or don’t want to. Both of those are legitimate excuses if you aren’t rude about it 🙂
When you start saying no, you’ll discover the people that care about you and who care about what you have to offer. The people who care about you won’t make it a big deal. If you say no because you are busy with your own work, they should understand and be supportive. If they make you feel guilty and try to convince you to help them… maybe they aren’t really a true friend. GIVE AN HONEST REASON FOR SAYING NO. If it’s a close friend asking you to go out and you’re trying to stay in and watch movies in your pajamas, tell them! If your boss asks you to stay late for work, but you have dinner plans with a friend you haven’t seen in months, tell them! An honest reason for saying no can be because you don’t want to, you just have to make it sounds nicer than that sometimes.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME. I have a list of everything I want to focus on right now. It includes exercising, painting, learning html & css, designing wedding invites, and this blog. I refer back to this list every few days to make sure none of these things are falling too far behind. If a new opportunity comes up, I’ll carefully consider it since it would be taking away time from my other activities. With every “yes” you are saying “no” to other things. But with every “no” you are giving yourself more time for whatever you want.
If you are one to say “yes” without even thinking about it…. STOP AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. You can even tell the person you’ll give them an answer later. Don’t just be impulsive and end up volunteering for 17 hours at your mom’s friend’s son’s garage sale because you weren’t “selfish” enough to say no.
And my last point, LET PEOPLE SAY NO TO YOU. Don’t be a hypocrite! If you’re asking someone to do something for you, they’re allowed to say no and you can’t be sassy about it.
THAT BEING SAID… Doing favors for people is awesome. And friendships are built on helping each other out. Being selfless is great sometimes. You’re going to do some things you don’t want because it makes other people happy. Just don’t make it a habit. If you’re working your booty off and getting nothing in return, start saying no. If you feel that you do a lot for your friends and they do just as much back, that’s awesome! That’s how it should be! Helping other people makes us feel better. But only after we’ve helped ourselves first. Work hard and make yourself happy, then reach out to others and do what you can for them.
So call off the wedding after the invitations have been sent. Get a new job even though no one knows you’re unhappy where you are. Drop out of law school if it isn’t the right fit. Or just stay in and watch movies in your pajamas.
*The Power Of Saying No by Judith Sills, Ph.D.
Image from The Power Of Saying No by Judith Sills, Ph.D.