[153] taking ownership of your decision-making abilities.

I’m a pushover. I’m just going to go right out and say it. Most of you probably know it already. Want me to do you a small favor? Done. A bigger favor? Done. Pick up your kids and take them to their lessons, across town from one another? I’ll stop at Sonic and get them an after-school treat on the way.

I guess I’m not so much a pushover as I am a people-pleaser. I really want you to be happy, and if I can assist in that endeavor, by all means, I’ll do it. I’m an advocate of wanting everything to run as smoothly as possible. If I can pitch in and help something be better than it would be without my help, then I’m there.

But sometimes, it’s too much. And one thing I’ve learned over the last year is that it’s okay to say no.

The majority of the time, it really is just that easy. There are always exceptions, like it’s your job or your child or someone else who is utterly dependent on you, but if it’s your free time? It’s yours. You can spend it however you like.

If you don’t want to do something on your leisure time, you don’t have to.

It’s harder to say “because I don’t want to,” but, generally, that isn’t the only reason. It’s easy to say no without intentionally hurting the asker’s feelings.

  • I’m already committed
  • I don’t have the time
  • I really can’t afford to [    ] right now because I’m saving money
  • That’s not a person/place/thing I am comfortable supporting
Of course, if the asker keeps pushing you, it’s fine to say that you just don’t want to. At the least, you can pull a Bartleby and just say that you would prefer not to. It’s uncomfortable, sure, but really, what can he or she do after that? Unless they can slap you with legal action, you have nothing to lose by declining the invitation.
And this goes for dating, as well. If you don’t want to give someone your number, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to meet someone for drinks, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to see someone, you don’t have to! No one is making you go. With the obligatory exceptions, no one has ever said that just because someone asks you on a date, you have to go. If you aren’t interested, you don’t have to go. It’s definitely harder to let people down in this, when more emotion is invested, but a lot of people get sucked into unhappy relationships because they don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. Believe me, this person will be much happier later if you hurt his or her feelings now.
So even if the truth is that you’d rather sit at home and watch NBC’s three-hour comedy block, you don’t have to admit that to anyone except the Internet if you don’t want to. You can just politely decline, and call it a day.
This isn’t to say that everyone should just be selfish all the time – those with giving hearts are admirable. I find myself doing favors for other people frequently – not because I’m a saint, but because I want people to be happy. But you don’t have to do everything that people ask of you every single time.
After all, I think everyone prefers sanity over a tired and overworked friend who’ll probably forget something on the list because the list is just so long. I know I do.
What do you think? When do you say when?

2 thoughts on “[153] taking ownership of your decision-making abilities.

  1. Good blog.

    I have a hard time balancing yes and no. When I was clinically depressed in 2006, I said no to everything and didn’t leave my room for days. Saying no because I “didn’t want to” was a cop out because I couldn’t cope with life, although I didn’t recognize that at the time.

    I still feel bad for turning people down and saying no to things, even if I am 100% sure it was the right choice for me.

    Saying yes can be opening yourself to a million different opportunities, experiences and memories BUT, you have to make sure you strike a proper balance between the two. Too many yes-es can be overwhelming, emotionally exhausting and overstimulating.

    It’s nice to have friendships that have crossed the barrier of “feelings getting hurt” if one friend says no to something. Most people don’t have those relationships though, and thus, “polite but regretful yes-es” happen.

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