Here at Conquering Life, we’re often encouraging people to say “Yes!”- Yes to change, yes to improving their lives and yes to new adventures, but, this week I want to talk about the importance of saying “no”. Sometimes saying no equates to standing up for ourselves. When we have low self esteem or an external locus of control it’s easy to believe that we don’t have a say or that our say doesn’t matter. Say your co-worker quits and you’ve been told you have to take on their work until they find a replacement and then you find out that your co-worker was not only doing their job but that of your supervisor as well. You’ve just been handed three times the work for exactly the same pay and no extra benefits. In theory it’s easy to say, “I’d never do that,” but the reality is that many people would take their feeling of being overwhelmed and blame themselves because we often look to ourselves when it comes to blame. This kind of situation doesn’t get better unless one stands up for themselves and says, “No.”
Standing up for ourselves can be incredibly difficult since we’re likely to believe that everything is somehow our fault. I have also found myself in a hard situation recently in which I had to say no to someone I respect and admire – someone with a strong personality who isn’t accustomed to being told no. It was in relation to doing a job that would have been demanding, involving a lot of commuting and very little pay. It was tough because I wanted to help but had to acknowledge that I am not in the position to do work for free – I have, like everyone else, bills and responsibilities. I mustered up my courage and wrote to her explaining the situation and my apologies. She wrote back and quickly it became clear from her emails that were to follow afterwards that she wasn’t taking no for an answer. That’s when my courage faltered, I panicked internally – what was I supposed to do now? My first reaction was wanting to run away and hide. I felt like she was saying it was all or nothing and I started looking to myself for blame. That’s when I took out my metaphorical Conquering Life toolbox and adjusted my perspective. This wasn’t my fault and this wasn’t something I had done wrong – I needed to have my own back. Once I felt solid in myself I contacted her again and we spoke at length, I explained how I felt and kept firm about what I wasn’t prepared to do. That’s when she surprised me, she told me that I had shown her how hard it is for people to say no to her and that she was going to work on it. We were able to arrive at a compromise that was on my terms while maintaining our friendship and both of our needs. We all need to readjust our perspectives sometimes and assess both points of view – sometimes saying no isn’t just about getting out of things, it’s about drawing attention and getting the support you need – either from the people you’re dealing with or from yourself.
At Conquering Life, we want to remind you that your feelings and needs are just as important as everyone else’s. We all deserve to be supported and sometimes we have to remind those around us of that fact. Sometimes we Conquer Life by saying no and by saying yes to ourselves.