A recurring theme with my clients is learning how to say “no.” The main feeling that comes up when one wants to say “no” but doesn’t is good old-fashioned guilt. Guilt that comes from cultural, family, and religious traditions. We feel that when we say “no” we’re being disobedient or unfaithful somehow. Rationally we know this is rubbish but emotional beliefs, reinforced since childhood, are hard to break.
Saying “yes” when we really want to say “no” often incites feelings of resentment. Resentment toward the doingness of the activity and resentment toward those involved. Service done under the guise of selflessness when it’s actually self-coerced is inauthenticity at its best. When we are being inauthentic, how do we feel? We feel a lot of things but what we don’t feel is content. Inauthenticity ≠ Happiness
One way to reframe the way we view saying “no” is to consider the opportunity it opens up for someone else to say “yes.” Perhaps this other person has been longing to be involved but is never asked because of all of the “usual” people (i.e. – you) always “yes.” I’ve often been the person with the time and inclination to help and say “yes” if only someone would have asked me.
If we really want to give service, we can give it by saying “no.” No one will have to deal with our bad attitudes of resentment. We won’t hate ourselves for acting inauthentically. And, most importantly, we’ll be providing the opportunity for someone else to experience the benefits of giving service.
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