“No” is such a tiny word but has huge power behind it. It can be intimidating to both say to someone and get for an answer. Targets of bullying have an especially difficult time saying no to people. And why not? Others have bullied them into saying yes for so long that they’ve conditioned the targets to do it without thinking. However, many people who have never been bullied also have a hard time telling others no. Why is that?
There are many reasons:
1.Many of us were raised to believe that saying no is self-centered, rude, and disrespectful.
When we were children, adults often forced us to say yes. Abusive adults often conditioned us to go against our own rights and welfare, or risk worse punishment. It was “obey, or else.”
Many of us grew up during a time when we automatically owed anyone over the age of eighteen respect. It didn’t matter if the adult in question was being fair or not. Neither did it matter if they were self-serving and out to harm us. Just by virtue of being adults, we “owed” them respect simply because they’d lived on this earth longer than us. We were made to believe we were obligated to give respect to any adult no matter how lowdown and creepy the person may have been.
Sadly, these adults conditioned us this way and molded us into spineless, submissive adults. As a result, we get used and abused by our partners, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers because all our lives, we’ve been duped into believing that saying yes to everything everyone asks (or demands) of us means that we’re “good people”- that being agreeable one hundred percent of the time shows that we’re being “respectful” and that we have “a good attitude.”
Only we end up learning the hard way that it’s the exact opposite- what it really means is that we become suck-ups, kiss-butts, and wusses.
Saying no means setting boundaries. And if we don’t set boundaries, we only end up with self-esteem that was never given the chance to develop properly. Therefore, we place ourselves at the mercy of bad people.
2. We’re afraid of offending people.
Let’s face it, people, especially bullies and abusers, often become offended with things which aren’t necessarily offensive. Understand that some people, especially bullies, abusers, narcissists, and psychopaths, hate it when you tell them no and will become infuriated. So, be prepared.
They will lay guilt trips on you and tell you what a rude and selfish person you are. Also, you will most likely even feel pangs of guilt and feel as if you’ve done something wrong. But don’t you believe it! See the person’s behavior for what it is- emotional manipulation.
Realize that the offense these people take comes from insecurity and the feeling of rejection. It also comes from feeling entitled. This is why they take being told “no” so personally. Realize that any indignation or anger the other person feels and displays is neither your responsibility nor is it your problem.
3. We’re afraid of letting other people down.
This is understandable. No one who’s a decent person and worth their salt want to let down another human being. However, if you don’t save a little time, energy, and resources for yourself, there will be nothing left for you. Constantly putting your needs and priorities on the back burner isn’t healthy at all.
4. We’re afraid of being thought of as selfish.
Most people care what others think and many, perhaps, a little too much. Although it’s normal to want others to think of us as good, decent, and caring people, too many people feel they must bend over backwards to prove it. This kind of thinking is unhealthy. It reeks of desperation and only attracts users and abusers who’ll only bleed you dry of time, energy, resources, and self-esteem.
Remember the verse in the song, “Self-Esteem” by The Offspring? The verse that quotes, “the more you suffer, the more it shows you really care…yeeah…”
Nooo! What it does is make you look like a simp to other people.
5. You waste so much of your time.
And that is time you’d rather spend with your family, closest friends, and loved ones. Or it could be time better spent studying your lessons, working on your own pursuits and hobbies, or resting. There are only 24 hours in a day and if you’re constantly prioritizing others first, your needs will take a back seat and you won’t have time left for yourself and the people who matter most.
Self-care is never selfish. It’s essential! It’s a necessity! Realize that you’ll never be able to please everyone, but that’s okay. So, be okay with it.
Be prepared for some people to call you “selfish” when they hear the word no come out of your mouth. But again. Remember that you’re not responsible for the way they feel or for their problems.
6. We want to help others because it’s rewarding.
This is normal and there’s nothing wrong with it. Helping others makes us feel good and has huge heart-rewards. For example, when we help our family members and friends, it shows them that we love them, and we care about their happiness and well-being. When we help total strangers, we do it because we care for our fellow man. That feels great!
The problem comes in when we’re so busy taking care of others that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. When it reaches this point, life can get stressful and overwhelming. Also, bullies, users, and abusers will take notice and try to exploit our generosity, taking our kindness for being weak and dumb.
These are things we much watch out for.
Realize that you only have so much of these commodities. Use them wisely and don’t waste any of them on people don’t deserve them or haven’t earned them (i.e. bullies, abusers, anyone who takes you for granted).
7. We have low-self-esteem.
When we have a low self-image, we are under the false assumption that our time, energy, and resources aren’t worth as much as those of others. We believe that we’re inferior to everyone else. Therefore, we quickly say yes to others, even those who give ridiculous demands, when we should say no.
Many times, we bend over backwards to prove our value. But worth is something we should never prove to anyone. It is something that’s either there, or it isn’t.
In other words, if you’re a good person, you have value. And if you have value, it’s already there and there’s no need to turn somersaults for people.
Here’s another thing. Saying no will actually raise your self-esteem and the more you say it, the higher it will rise until you realize that you’re just as good as everyone else and that your time, your energy, your pursuits, and your dreams are just as important as everyone else’s.
8. We want approval and to be liked by others.
Wanting to be liked and approved of is a natural human desire that’s hardwired in all of us. It’s how we make friends, connections, and allies. It’s also how we nurture our relationships with family and those we love. We try to relate to and find commonality with others to get accepted.
Many times, this is why we say yes even when we’re better off saying no. Understand that, though you may get approval from others if you’re a yes-person, that approval will be short lived. Because people always come back for more and there will be times when something comes up and you won’t be available for them. Then what?
Realize that keeping your self-esteem and self-respect is worth a hell of a lot more than getting anyone’s approval. And trust me, any approval that has the fine print of conditions tagged onto it is not the type of approval you want.
9. We give in to the threats and demands of bullies and abusers.
Unfortunately, some people won’t take no for an answer. Bullies and abusers are such people. These types will move Heaven and Earth to manipulate you into feeling obligated and saying yes to them. They will try things, such as”
1. Screaming and yelling at you.
2. Calling you names like:
And the list goes on…
1. Cursing you out
2. Threatening physical harm
3. Hurling insults
4. Humiliating you in front of others
5. Ostracizing you
6. Giving you the silent treatment
Understand that these people use these evil tactics to punish you or to make you cave into their demands. They also do this to make you feel guilty, embarrassed, or afraid, in hopes that you’ll give up and give in to get them to stop abusing you. But please, for your sake, don’t’ cave in!
You must realize that, if you give into the bullies’ demands, you’ll only quell their hostility temporarily because, sooner or later, bullies always come back for more and thus, these incidences will become a pattern.
There’s one thing I want you to know right now. Bullies and abusers aren’t dumb. They know exactly what they’re doing. Believe me when I say that your bullies are fully aware that they’re trying to manipulate you. They know good and well that they’re being abusive and yes, they also know that what they’re doing is wrong.
Never think for one moment that these bullies don’t realize what they’re doing!
As long as you remember this, it will give you the confidence, courage, and resilience to stand firm against this atrocious behavior, call it out for what it is, and hold your position.
Better yet, you will be less likely to feel shamed, humiliated, fearful, or guilty. You’ll see the bully’s behavior as a reflection of their cowardice, insecurity, and desperation and this alone will make it easier to stand your ground.
10. We’re afraid of conflict.
Many people are deathly afraid of conflict. Targets and most survivors of bullying are especially so because they’ve had so much conflict forced into their lives. And they will make a complete about-face when they detect even the slightest scent of it.
I shamefully admit that I become one of these people for a while in my twenties. However, I soon came to realize that conflict is a part of life, and many times cannot be avoided. There are times when conflict will seem to hunt you down like a hungry wolf. In other words, conflict is something we will all face at some points in our lives. It is certain. This is why we must learn to be assertive and say no to people when we need to.
Sadly, for many of those who have this fear, giving into others is a quick and easy fix. Any time the other person shows signs of becoming angry or frustrated when the pleaser can’t be available right that second, they’ll try to assuage the other person. They retract statements, change their minds, and acquiesce.
Pleasers believe that surrendering to the demands of another is safer (easier) than standing their ground, and they immediately cave in to avoid conflict.
11. Saying yes to everything and everyone becomes a habit.
Many people have been conditioned to people-please and the longer they do it, the more entrenched it becomes until it becomes instinct. In other words, our brains continue to develop more neural pathways for people-pleasing until we become wired to do it and it’s an automatic response. As a result, we do it without even thinking about it, nor realizing it. Realize that for some, people-pleasing is a learned response, and it stems from many factors.
These 11 things are the roots of our apprehension and the best way to solve any issue is to get to the roots of it. If you know why you have a hard time saying no, you’re more likely to know what to do to change it. And once you get over the fear of saying no and begin asserting your rights, you will feel more empowered than you ever felt before. I promise you!
With knowledge comes empowerment!