Story By Caitlin Paroczai
Every single person on this planet has a personality trait that causes them some grief. Take me for example. Massive overthinker. In a creative sense, having my brain constantly buzzing with unexplored ideas is awesome. But it also causes me a significant amount of stress.
One personality trait that does not cause me grief is my ability to say no.
I am not a people pleaser. In a general sense, a people pleaser is someone who finds it difficult to say no. You can always count on them for a favour. In fact, they might even do something they do not want to do just because it will make someone else happy.
This is a concept that is completely unfamiliar to me. I can confidently reveal that I have never once felt guilty for saying no to something, or somebody. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m okay with upsetting people. In fact, I go out of my way to help people a lot. I have just grown up with an incredibly strong sense of individuality, never allowing myself to be pressured into anything I don’t want to do.
Growing up as an anti-people-pleaser has led me to be viewed by certain humans as selfish, antisocial or self-absorbed. Hey, people are entitled to have their opinion. But honestly, I have always viewed my ability to set boundaries with others exceedingly helpful. The fact that I cannot be pressured to do something I do not want to do gives me a sense of empowerment.
My boyfriend is a people pleaser. We are totally different in this regard. He wants to keep everybody happy and I admire that. Despite the fact that it shows how caring he is, I find it downright frustrating.
All I want is for him to guzzle a dose of my anti-people-pleaser-ness and make decisions based on what is best for HIM. Seriously, I get stressed watching him trying to make decisions that will keep everybody happy, AND I AM NOT EVEN THE ONE MAKING IT! Can you tell I am getting stressed even thinking about it?
So, while there is most certainly power in saying yes to things, I am also advocating that there is power in saying no.
Next time you feel afraid to say no, just think… what is the worst thing that could possibly happen if I said no to this? Is saying yes to this actually going to benefit me, or will I be disregarding my own needs?
If a friend invites you out when you would rather be sitting on your couch watching Netflix with your good friends Ben and Jerry, say no. If somebody asks whether you can help them with a project when you have your own massive pile of work stacking up, say no.
The fact that people feel bad about stating the good ol’ no is entirely understandable. Society seems to view no as being linked to negativity. But there is a clear difference here. Negativity is only an attitude, while no is a moment of clarity. A clear choice that helps us acknowledge our own personal responsibility, autonomy and needs. In what world should that be viewed as a bad thing?
Perhaps the more important question here is how much no is too much? When is the line between self-empowerment and plain selfish simply crossed? Look, I don’t know.
All I know is I am completely okay with saying no.