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Learn how to say no

Q: I’m like the song lyrics, “I am just a girl who can’t say no.”

Whenever anyone wants something done, he or she will knock on my door and I am always willing to oblige, even when I have neither the time nor the energy to do so.

Sometimes being as agreeable as I am gets me into real trouble, like yesterday, when I was baking three pies to rush over to the year end hockey banquet just after getting back from an overnight field trip with my son’s Grade 5 class and while stopping in at the drug store to pick up Mom’s latest prescription.

My husband gets impatient with me and wonders why I don’t say no once in a while. How do you say no?

A: A number of people who struggle saying no carry with them an inordinate fear of rejection.

They do not say no because they are afraid that if they do, people will start to reject them and they will be isolated even within their own communities.

Learning to say no means that they will have to build up their self-esteem and not let the acceptance or rejection of other people be so persuasive in their lives.

The bottom line is that people are either going to accept or reject others for a variety of reasons. What they do is not likely to have much influence on whether or not other people think that they are acceptable.

Reflecting on your self-esteem might make this exercise too complicated to be of much value.

What you may need more than a well-rounded functional self-assessment of your character is a little more time to make decisions.

As desperate as someone might sound on the telephone, the truth is that people can wait.

Tell them you will get back to them and give yourself time without being subjected to pressures and you will likely find yourself choosing more carefully.

If you like baking pies, then bake pies, and let your mom wait for her prescription while you are telling your son’s teacher that someone else is going to have to help her with the class field trip.

If you give yourself time to make a decision before committing, you are going to find that the number of times that you are desperately needed is not as often as you think.

Your husband is right. You do not have to be all things to all people but you do have to be faithful to yourself.

About the author

Jacklin H. Andrews, Msw's recent articles


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