F Simple and Serene Living: learning to say no 09 10
Monday, September 1, 2014

learning to say no


Women Speak





Why is it so hard for women to say no. I have spent most of my life unable to say no. Even when I wanted so desperately to say no. Even when it went against my best interest to say no. Even when I was terribly inconvenienced. I would grit my teeth, say yes, and then be mad as you know what.

I remember when my second husband asked me to marry him. I wanted to say no, I meant to say no, but he had the ring and he looked so pathetic hopeful. I mean I couldn't hurt his feelings, could I? Don't get me wrong, I have two incredible daughters and three amazing grandchildren so I wouldn't trade that for anything, and I mean anything, but what made me put his interests above my own well being. I have spent the past forty years paying for my inability to say no to him.


It wasn't just big things that I couldn't say no to. It was also small everyday things. It was as if I had a sign taped to my back that said ASK LAURA SHE CAN"T SAY NO. I have gotten up out of my sick bed and run to the store because someone needed something and apparently I was the only one capable of getting it. I have walked to a store in a blizzard, with bad knees, uphill both ways (okay, slight exaggeration) because no one else could get the milk. I have stood in front of a crowd of people at a podium, leading a conference even though I was quaking in my shoes and didn't want to do it. I have.......well I'm sure you get the picture.


I have recently, after only 63 years, learned to say no. My mom told me a few days ago that my brother, who we haven't seen in five years, has decided to come for Thanksgiving and cook our dinner. Isn't that wonderful she said. I told him you would clean up the kitchen after the meal. NO, NO, NO!!!!! Two years ago I turned in my Thanksgiving kitchen duties. I'm done. I either eat out at a fancy restaurant or I eat a cheese sandwich. I'll be happy to give him a big hug at the restaurant. 


Today, my sister asked if I would drive her to the grocery because she didn't feel like driving. Okay, I said, because I could pick up a couple of things for myself. When it was time to go she showed up at my bedroom door, credit card in hand, and said she didn't feel like going so could I just pick up her things as I was already dressed with my makeup on. (we have been down this same road so many times I've lost track) NO, NO, NO!!! 


It hasn't been easy making the transition from yes to no, but it gets easier each time I do it. It doesn't mean I won't do anything for people, but it does mean I won't allow myself to be taken advantage of, and that seems like a pretty good thing to me.

Are you good at saying no? I would love to hear how you deal with unwanted requests. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let's chat.

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P.S. Please notice that the random flower pictures have nothing whatsoever to do with this post, but they were calling my name and I just couldn't say no. OOOPS!!

32 comments:

  1. My counselor told me she was going to make a large sign to hang around my neck that said, "NO" That was 15 years ago and sad to say I am not much better at it now. Got any tips?
    Debbie

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    1. As a counselor it was always easy for me to see the problem in others, I just couldn't seem to control it in myself. Believe me counselors aren't perfect. I think like most things it is a combination of behavior modification and a true desire to change. Keep working on it. I think it gets easier with practice.

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  2. I have suffered from can't-say-no-itis all of my life. I was always a "yes" person. I have been there, Laura. And I still struggle with it. Hate to think anyone will think I'm "not nice."

    Brenda

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    1. That's a lot of my problem too, Brenda. I don't want people to think I am not nice, and yet there are plenty of people I like who know how to say no :)

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  3. I spent a lot of years doing whatever everyone else wanted but lately I've found my voice. It feels wonderful to not put yourself last

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    1. Hooray for you, Kim. I think when we start doing it we wonder what took s so long :)

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  4. I say no so much that people don't ask anymore. There is only one of me and only so much I can do. If you just start saying it, people get the message.

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  5. I used to have that problem, but not so much anymore. After trying to please everyone for so many years, it made me suffer terrible anxiety to the point of needing medication. Now, I'll say no if I feel it is in my best interest. I don't want to make myself "sick" over non-important things anymore.

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    1. I agree, Kelly. It is hard to break the habit of saying yes to everything, but it is important for other people to respect your time and your well being.

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  6. The flowers are very nice my friend! And yes, I've learned to say no...finally! But it was my husband that helped me. We've been married almost 20 years and I am finally listening to him and saying no. People....mostly family members....can sure be inconsiderate. And the ones that ask a lot are the ones that never GIVE in return. It's sad. Many times I want to do more but I've learned they will take advantage of you. I'm a giving person. But I've had to learn NOT to give to certain people. WHEW! That DID feel good to talk about! Sweet hugs, Diane

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    1. Good to get it out, isn't it. How wonderful that your husband is so supportive and has helped you to say no. It's been amazing to me that when I occasionally said no in the past I was accused of being selfish even if I was doing a million other things and had a lot of other responsibilities. Hugs!!

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  7. Once you learn that the word NO is a complete sentence it gets easier. You don't have to offer a reason for why you are saying no. If you say no and there is silence the other person will soon fill it as they will find it uncomfortable. If you start to fill it you will waffle. Don't do it.
    The big thing I say no to are all the home parties that come up. Candles. No thanks. Tupperware. No thanks. Jewelry. No thanks. Spices. No thanks. Cosmetics. No thanks.

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    1. You are so right about just saying no and leaving it at that, and good for you for saying no to things you don't want to do.

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  8. I don't have a problem saying no if I don't want to do something, Of course, I'm much older than most of you I'm sure, and you learn that doing things that you don't want to do is not fair to you or your family. There are a lot of people - some strangers even - that I like to do something for, but then most of them don't even ask. My family all has come to expect a lot from me, but after all, I am the older sister and I consider it a priviledge and an honor to do things for them. But, I learned a long time ago, that if you don't say no to something you really don't want to do, it is not done with the best attitude. And that's not good for anybody.

    No, my grandchildren and greats - they don't know that I even know to word no when it comes to them! LOL

    Judy

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    1. Well, I don't say no to my daughters, who rarely ask for anything, or my grandchildren. It is a privilege to do things for them. It is the people who take advantage or who I really don't want to do things for that I am now saying no to. You are a very giving person, Judy, and I feel certain you say yes with a happy heart :)

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  9. All my life I have said yes, yes, yes thinking people would appreciate what I have done for them and return the favor - WRONG! When I finally learned to stand up for myself, I got the reputation as a b*&%h. Everyone forgot what I had done for them before. I don't do for anyone anymore unless I really want to.

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    1. Oh, you are so right. I have gone through the same thing. I am now explaining to those people one time why I am now saying no. I was told I was a b*&%h too, but guess what those kind of words no longer bother me because I know that it really has nothing to do with who I am. I am glad to hear that it has not stopped you from saying no.

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  10. I am also not good at saying no.....last year it was just 'assumed' i would watch my grand-daughter all school year (she was only 1)...no pay...no real thanks...it was just assumed...it took a great toll on my mood, on my at home business and I wasn't even able to make my needed doctor or dentist appointments because she was here all day...every day...this year I said NO and although i do feel guilty (a little bit) I know that I will enjoy more the one day I HAVE CHOSEN to watch her. It is difficult to say no....maybe it comes from a deep need to be loved/appreciated, but it usually ends up with one feeling used and unappreciated. Like anything, if we make it a habit to think about saying NO, it will soon become easier. Unfortunately...there will always be people who will take advantage of your kindness.

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    1. Wendy, I think a lot of grandmothers are put in this position. I don't know if it is because we love our grandchildren so much that they think we want to spend every minute with them or what. Yes, the inability to say no can come from feelings of insecurity and a need to be loved, but it should never be a reason for someone loving us. I am so happy to hear that you were able to make a compromise on when you would watch her. It is so beneficial for both you and your grandchild to have "quality" time together while you are able to have your own life.

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  11. Great pictures Laura ad good for you. I am saying no for some things now too. I hate being taken advantage of and I don't do that to people.

    Cindy

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    1. Thanks, Cynthia. Congratulations on not letting people take advantage of you. :)

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  12. Hi Laura. Most of my life I had trouble saying "no" but I've gotten MUCH better at it.

    Remember that song from a musical (which musical I'm not sure)....it went: "I'm just a girl who can't say no, I'm in a terrible fix. I always say "Come on let's go, just when I ought to say nix. When a fellow tries to kiss a girl, I know she ought to give his face a SMACK. But whenever someone kisses me, I sorta kinda want to kiss him BACCCCCKKKKKK....."

    Ha! So now, we have more life experience and more practice saying no. Let's continue to practice! Susan

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  13. p.s. That song is from "Oklahoma!" And I love your photos. Susan

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    1. I love the musical Oklahoma and I go around singing that song a lot. You can just imagine the looks I get. Let's definitely keep on practicing our no saying :)

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  14. There is this point in life when your flower suddenly blooms, you learn to stand up for yourself, say NO, mean it, and keep it that way, and start to look after yourself first, because if you don't no one else will.

    You've bloomed beautifully Laura...so beautifully.

    Jen

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words, Jen. You always make me feel so good. I have finally learned that I need to take care of myself first.

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  15. My SIL gave me some good advice a few years ago - you can say no, you have plans. Even if those plans are to sit and do nothing they are still plans. It's difficult, but I am learning. I get it naturally from my Mum we are people pleasers. Since I was diagnosed with fibro a few years ago it has been a little easier to put myself first.

    Leann

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