With deepest apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein:
I’m jist a gal who cain’t say no,
I’m in a turrible fix
I always say “come on, let’s go”
Jist when I orta say nix!
This has always been my problem (well, one of them anyway). And I think there are many others out there who feel the same – especially the ladies. We are born helpers. We want to nurture everyone else. We live to make others happy.
“Are you comfortable? Would you like a cushion?”
“You look famished! Here, let me cook you up a 5 course meal. It’s no problem, I wasn’t doing anything anyway.”
“You need another person on your committee? What, the 10 you’ve already got aren’t doing anything? Not to worry – I’ll do the job of 10 and you can all go have a nice little lie down.”
What is this ‘no’ of which you speak?
For some reason, that little 2-letter word is just so hard to say.
It’s the first word my children learned (don’t let anyone tell you that “mama” or “papa” are the first words out of a baby’s mouth. I’ve done an unscientific survey and “NO” beats them all – hands down!) so they must have heard it somewhere, but goodness only knows where? Because, I hardly ever said it back then, and it’s only recently, as I’ve entered that ‘certain’ age of maturity, that I’ve started to learn its value.
Yes is a lovely, accommodating word. It makes us friends. It makes other people smile. It gets us into a whole mess of trouble (or a “turrible fix” in the words of the song).
Maybe is what we say when we want to say no but haven’t quite got the nerve.
“Would you like to carry this 25kg bag out to the road for me? I know your back is nearly breaking but I really don’t think I have the energy to do this.”
But no? No is a grown-up word. It’s a word for the secure. For people who know their mind and aren’t afraid to say what they’re thinking.
Though saying no can put others off (especially when they were really expecting and hoping for ‘yes’), it will get you respect like nobody’s business!
Because, when you have gotten to the point where you are confident enough to say “no” and mean “no”, ain’t nobody going to take advantage of you, and that is a very powerful place to be.
It may take some practice; some mental gymnastics and a half hour of practising in front of the mirror, but eventually, you’ll get there, and the feeling of freedom will be very heady.
And, whether you find that power when you’re 19 (lucky thing!) or when you’re nearly 60 (like me), it can be a game changer in your life.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and whatever you do, don’t give “yes” for an answer – unless you really want to!
by Wynn Grossman
for the Stress to Strength Team