For my entire life, for the most part, I’ve had this terrible need to make other people happy. Anytime anyone would ask if I want to go somewhere or do something, I have said, “yes” just to make sure that they know I like them. I have always had this fear that if I said, “no. I really don’t feel like it” that my friends or family would have this feeling that I don’t like them. I need my friends to know that I care about them, of course.
Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? My step-mom, Norma, was talking to me recently about a friend of hers. Apparently her friend is the nicest person on the planet. She just does not have a mean bone in her body. She is funny and kind and just a genuine person. Norma asked her a while back to go somewhere with her. Her friends response was simply, “You know, I don’t really know anything about it. I will look it up and if it is something I’m interested in, then I’d love to go with you. If not, then I’ll just tell ya, ‘no.'” Norma said she was taken aback by it…Why would she not want to go? I mean, even just to spend time together…??? No??? In the end, she ended up being interested and went along and they had a great time. But why the reaction? Why shouldn’t we be free to say, “If I’m not interested, then I’ll just say, ‘no.'”
The freedom to be able to politely say, “No,” would be so incredibly freeing. No pressure…truly. It reminds me of the Genie in Aladdin…”Oh to be free! To be free would be greater than all the magic and all the treasure in all the world!” To be truly confident in who I am and who I am to others to be able to say “no” without any negative consequence would be so great. But what about being confident enough in ourselves and who we are to give that same freedom to others.
I imagine asking someone to go hang out with me, and if they say, “No. I’m not really interested in that” then I’m going to feel stupid because I must be an idiot for enjoying whatever activity it is that I want to do. Or, I’m going to think that they really just don’t want to spend time with me. I feel that same panic that I worry about others feeling when I say, “no.” But that isn’t fair for me to feel that way either. I should be confident enough to allow other people to say, “no” without my feeling rejected. They may just simply not feel like it.
Now, I don’t think this counts for everything. For example, if I just really don’t feel like hanging out with my family for Christmas Day, I’m not going to say “no” just because I don’t feel like it. There are times that you go to an event or occasion to respect or honor someone else. There is a healthy balance that can be achieved here.
My goal is to find that balance. I want to set an example and precedent for those around me and my children to be confident enough in themselves to respectfully say “no” and excitedly say “yes” when the time is right! I want others to feel comfortable saying, “Kristin, I really don’t feel like going to the Craft Fair” or “No…I’m really not interested in baseball…so I’m just not going to go to the game.” I’m determined to be OK with that just as I am determined to help others be OK with this same characteristic in me.