The Life Saving Power of Saying "No"
When the world was normal and people and places were readily available, there were countless invites I said no to. For various reasons. A few of those, I had been honest and confessed to not feeling my best. Some of those, I had to lie. On the other side of things, I said yes to-possibly, just as many events, occasions, that I later on regretted. Of course, the times I have showed up for people I care for, I have enjoyed them or found value in the time spent. But as I got older, I realized that I was choosing to say yes to many things just so I avoid feeling awful about myself. I would rather waste time in bad company or lose energy pretending I was having the time of my life, than risking being thought of as a bad person.
The turning point and the end to my careless “yeses” came in the form of a 3-hour phone call. I sat, waited, agreed and chimed in my takes on this person’s ranting session, as the sun set on the skyline of Makati. My ears grew hot, my mouth dry and parched and the balls of my eyes strained. All from listening and pretending that the conversation was vital for my life. The other person might’ve-hopefully, benefited from it. But I was left hallow and tired. I thought, it’s okay, I care for the person and I was also raised to be of help, but when I got sick the day after, I knew that even for people I care for, I need to say no to. This is a strange example, you might think. And I may be part of a few confused introverts who straddle between being there for somebody and choosing time alone for the self. However, we can be good people who know when and how to say no.
Study What The Offer Is
While this is a thought piece on saying no, this is in no way a call to arms to endless declining. Before you agree to doing anything, you must always study the circumstance and the elements of it. As an example, a meeting is set to discuss a few things at an inconvenient time. It is easy to say no to this if you have the foresight to see that there would be nothing fruitful coming out of it. But if the inconvenient meeting would save more time and effort for everyone else in the future, then maybe soldiering on is better. A drinking session that would last you til 5 in the morning is tempting, but will you be functioning well the next day? It all depends on what you’re willing to give up, for things you can enjoy later on.
You can show people you care even when you say no. If a friend needs an ear to pour their hearts out on, but you’re sincerely in no shape or mood to be on the receiving end, show them you care by giving them a little gift to cheer them up or reserve another time or day that would match your moods and schedules. You can be of help in other ways that would be good for both of you.
Choose Yourself, Always
For any of us to be functioning, valuable and helpful people to others, we have to take care of ourselves first. We must know where we stand, what we can and can’t give and we must treasure the value we have as individuals. It’s alright to choose yourself first, especially if you know that you can bring more value unto the table if you prioritize yourself.
Saying No Does Not Make You A Bad Human Being.
I believe people these days have grown softer, more understanding of others and that is the true beauty of this new age of self-awareness. More people would understand a “no”, than a “yes” that they sense you’re only half committed to. This brings us back to being genuine to ourselves and to others. That if you’re “no” is sincere and with valid reason, people will most likely understand and even respect you for it.
Relationships Are Not Measured By Your Yeses.
Whether in business, work or in your personal relationships, those of importance or relationships of value, last longer not because of the times you’ve said yes. There are many more things to a good relationship than amenability. Having said this, on anyone’s end, if it gets to a point where one has to say no, one has to be honest and genuine as to why. I have told friends before that as much as I had wanted to see them or yield to their invite, I wasn’t 100% on those days and I’m lucky they understand. And this shows that our friendship does not stand strong over the invites I said yes to, but on a combination of many moments and actions we have all invested in each other.
Choose honesty over resentment or regret.
We live once and we would much rather savor our days living honestly, genuinely, than looking back on times we regret or harboring resentment over people. The poison of saying “yes” all the time, comes as a side effect later on. All those yeses, you realize, could’ve been time well spent. And it is also not the other person’s fault that they invite you or ask you. If you’re lucky enough to be liked, even just by a few, you owe it to them to be courteous and truthful. In the end, you’d rather miss out than see the person and be reminded of regret or resentment.
It is in theory, easier said-or in this case, written, than done. And while we are all growing up, even as adults, there will be times and moments in our lives that saying “no” might just save our lives. In the end, no matter how big or small the requests may be, I do hope you value yourselves more and continue to enrich your lives with more meaningful relationships and decisions worth keeping and making.