The Power of ‘No’
The majority of my adult life has been about always saying yes to everything. I’ve said yes to working double, sometimes triple shifts when I was bar tending, I’ve said yes to going to parties and events I didn’t need to attend because looking back, they were a waste of my time. I’ve said yes to things that caused me to go above and beyond, and doing so to impress others, and trust me they weren’t impressed nor did they care.
We’ve all been there: felt pressure to say yes even though we didn’t want to. It’s one thing to help out once in awhile but it’s another when it becomes a habit and it wears you down mentally, spiritually, and physically because the person or persons you are helping have come to expect you to say yes.
First Example: Work Relationships
In my late teens and early 20s, I was always saying yes and I got burned out. In my mind, I had convinced myself I was helping and nurturing all these people, from my former bosses, coworkers, and friends. After more experience, it finally clicked that these people didn’t give a shit about me, they wanted something from me, and they didn’t care.
A true leader or friend would not continually ask for more and more. That was the stone cold truth and I’m unfortunately an experiential learner, and it took multiple experiences to realize this. Everything I’m saying is not coming from a bitter place, but a place of acknowledgement.
When you work a triple shift, and your boss loses track of time, and you have to battle to prove you worked, you’ll see where I’m coming from. Takes weeks for payroll to adjust your correct pay and causes absolute annoyance. All while, during that dinner shift I could’ve been at home finishing homework for college but no, I put my needs on hold to help a company and a douche bag that could’ve cared less about me. Then the next week, he turns around and asks me to close again. Yeah, that sums up my early 20s. Getting screwed over not only financially but mentally and spiritually.
Second Example: Personal Relationships
I have this one friend, who cannot get their shit together. This is putting it nicely. I’ve always helped this friend pick up whatever pieces I could because my heart truly ached for them. Helped them find a job, helped them move multiple times, and devoted my time (while I was in school full time and working a full time job, too) to help to better develop them and then it finally clicked, this person keeps making shit decisions and they are not learning any type of lesson. This person was draining me. Every time I called them it was negative, negative, negative and it would cause me to be negative. Then I realized they need to struggle a little bit, so I distanced myself. This distance made me realize that they only contact me (usually via drunk dial) when they need me to say yes to helping them get out of a hole that they knowingly dug themselves into. I don’t willingly talk to this individual anymore. If I see this person in passing, I’m kind but I don’t go out of my way to go to coffee with them at a future date.
Prioritize and learn from experience
I hope these two examples I mentioned resonate with you regarding how you should responded with “yes” and “no.” Maybe these two examples make you think of someone you know. I’m not perfect, I’ve taken advantage of friends, family and coworkers. Noticing a defect takes soul searching and doesn’t happen overnight. I’m a flawed individual but I will not run someone ragged…. anymore.
I wouldn’t trade these experiences because now I know what to say ‘yes’ and ‘HELL NO’ to. I’m not negative because of these experiences but I am cautious who I work with and hang out with. I’ll tell you this, at 27 years old my inner circle is very small and my supervisors are awesome. Refer back to those two examples, I’ve come a long way. That shit consumed my life. Literally. I can’t save the world. I can’t save someone from making a poor decision. Lord knows I’ve killed myself trying to save everything. It was a huge waste of time and stress.
We are only responsible for our actions, not our partner, family, boss, and coworkers. Say ‘yes’ to positivity, say ‘no’ to negativity. Say ‘yes’ to something that will challenge you in a strong way, say ‘no’ to something that challenges you in a degrading way. Say ‘yes’ to helping a person in need, say ‘no’ to enabling a person’s poor behavior and habits.