When someone asks me to do something, I struggle to say no. What if they become angry? Isn’t it selfish to not do what others want? Guilt often pushes me into situations.
Now, trying to help others and do new things can be a wonderful trait. However, if you do good deeds or attend social events simply out of fear of saying no, you will usually end up anxious, depressed, and possibly resentful. Instead of learning from or enjoying the situation, the person feels forced into something with no control over the situation. Many times, I have found myself in this place wondering why I am so weak and why others control my every action.
With therapy and a growth in confidence, I have begun to say no a bit more. This experience still brings much stress and guilt. Each day, I must decide that to think before I respond to requests. If I say yes to something, is it out of fear and guilt or longing to be helpful and experience something new? What would be best not for just the other person or just myself but for both of us in the long run? For example, going to a friend’s party might make her happy for a few minutes. But if I am so scared that I stay hidden in the bathroom the whole time, she will feel miserable as well as me. A good alternative would be seeing her alone to catch up while taking a walk. That way we both end up happy.
Although I have made progress in turning people down, one phrase still hits me hard every time. It is “I really want you to…” or “I really would love it if you would…” Suddenly I feel like the whole world will hate me if I do not agree at once. If I must say no, I apologize numerous times and often have nightmares of the event. Something about these words makes me feel like I am a monster to refuse.
Oddly enough, these words connected with difficult requests do not bug me as much. For example, if my boss asks me to do a gross task, I readily agree. Even if he uses these words, I do not feel as miserable about them. Perhaps that is because I am obeying.
What really unnerves me is when friends or people I respect deeply use this phrase. The other day, a peer wanted me to join a group of friends in an actitivy. Although I knew the event was too much for me to handle presently, I struggled to voice this. Agonizing about it for several days finally became too much for me. Almost in tears, I gave my regrets to the sweet girl. The look of disappointment on her face tore at my heart. Finally I was being invited somewhere. How dare I be so ungrateful!
Now, with some distance between myself and the event, I realize that I chose the difficult but best response. Plus, I said no to someone really wanting me to do something without making up an excuse. well, maybe I did give a few excuses. Anyway, it is a start. This dreaded phrase lost a bit of its power over me.