What happened to the freedom to say no? No one these days answers the question, “How do you live your life?” with the answer “I'm afraid to say no.” But so many of us live in this space of answering yes to every demand and request with alarming tenacity.
No Freedom To Say No
How many of us tend to take on tasks even when our plates are overflowing; and then complain we are overwhelmed and have too much to do? Couple this with an inability to ask for what we want, and we have the perfect storm: stress and anxiety swirling with great force in every area of our lives.
It seems that we don’t merely invite stress and anxiety; we require them as our constant companions. How many people long for a vacation, staycation, or just a moment to ourselves so we can breathe? Everybody. But most of us bristle at the suggestion that we are the ones creating our own stress.
Imagining Negative Consequences Of Saying No
It all stems from what we think will happen. We believe we can’t say no to our bosses, spouses, children, family, friends and even our pets. If we say no to them, we're afraid of what will happen to them, or how they will feel, or even what they will do to retaliate when we want something. This fear of the consequences of no means we stay stuck in a pattern which lacks self-advocacy and freedom. We fail to stand up for ourselves in a meaningful way that could result in a positive change in our relationships and our lives. This dynamic of always saying yes, and never asking for what we want keeps us stuck in the status quo.
Having Expectations Of Disappointment
After all, we already know what’s going to happen if we ask for, say, a raise…right? (Add excuse here.) We already know the answer will be no before we ask the question – so what’s the point in asking? The same goes for family members who are always demanding things from us but never returning any favors. Thought patterns such as these are what keep us firmly planted wherever we are. The truth is, the answer will always be no to our needs unless we ask, and not the other way around.
In fact, many times people feel they don't have to have an actual conversation with someone from who they want help because they've played out the scenario in their heads and believe they know the answer will not be a good one. The outcome contrived is always the one that keeps us stuck in the not asking. We live our lives believing that we know all the answers, so we never ask the questions!
The Freedom To Say No...And To Ask For What We Want
Imagine how freeing it would be if we could let go of what we think is going to happen. If we could stop projecting our negativity on every situation, we could have the freedom to say no and the ability to ask for what we need. No doesn’t mean any of the myriad of connotations that we attach to it, and asking for what we want is a good way to get some yeses. But if someone does say no to us, that also is part of life. No is just no. We all have to learn to live with it.