Today was a frustrating day for me. It started out quite alright, everything went as planned, life was good et cetera. Then came the point where somebody started to, unknowingly, test my boundaries by asking me if I could help with something. And immediately I said ‘Yes, of course!’, while thinking ‘No, not today’. I do not even know where the yes came from, it was out there before I could blink and then I could not take it back. And after the first request came another one ; by now I was a bit more prepared and answered instead ‘Yes, but not now’. It was still not the ‘No’ that I wanted to say, but at least it came closer to the truth. I however regretted the answer as soon as it was time to fulfill the request, because my mind still screamed NO while my actions completed the request.
This happens to me all the time; I do not want to do something but I say yes nonetheless. Sometimes it even occurs that I say yes without ever thinking about the question. I am just so busy with giving the socially correct and desired answer that I forget to check with myself if I actually want to or even can do what is asked. In the past this saying yes has created some unnecessary difficulties in my life.
Just imagine the following conversations; ‘Can you help me with my studying today?’ → ‘Why yes of course, I would be delighted to. Nothing in the world would make my day more wonderful than to help you’ [I will have to stay up past midnight to finish my own studying because I actually do not have time to help you and I actually would rather not]. ‘Can you maybe take up this extra task for me, because I am so stressed out I cannot handle it anymore’ → ‘Yes sure, anything else I can do for you?’ [I have not slept well for a month, have daily and nightly panic attacks, can almost not perform my job anymore and cry myself to sleep]. ‘Would you like to get together tonight and make food and chill?’ → ‘Yes, that would be great! I am looking forward to it already’ [I would, but I am so tired from working from seven in the morning till six in the evening that I cannot even muster up the energy to walk up the stairs].
These sorts of conversations actually happened in my life and while they sort of helped the other person in the situation, completing the requests brought me no joy and sometimes even caused me additional pain. So why do I keep saying yes? This way I might end up in a marriage only because I am incapable of saying no! I think I keep saying yes, because I am afraid I cannot deal with the consequences of saying no. Saying no entails that you do not make somebody extra happy to do something for them. It entails that you sometimes do not help them with their problems, but instead say ‘Hey your problem, not mine!’. I am afraid somebody might get angry with me or worse, disappointed. I am afraid that in some cases it will make me look like a boring person (No, I do not want to go out, because I would rather be alone in my room watching Doctor Who).
In the end I know that you cannot really help someone unless you take joy in helping them. I also know that it makes me feel miserable and I do not want to do it. So that is why I am trying really hard to turn more of my yes’s into no’s, but it is a challenging task. Some days it works; I might not say the full no yet, but I have improved by saying ‘Yes!… Or wait, let me think about it and get back to you’. However, when I am tired, a bit down or a bit ill, it gets harder to do this and I hear myself answer yes again without thinking. Which is exactly what happened today.
Luckily, I resolved the situation, talked about it with the other person and we came to an agreement. We parted ways amicably to both enjoy our weekends and I have a whole weekend in front of me, to relax, watch Doctor Who and say no all I like! Life is good.