Saying “NO”

Sometimes saying ‘No’ can feel the hardest word to utter.

Saying ‘no’ to a friend who needs you, leaving you feeling completely drained, but who tugs at your heartstrings with their sad story can feel hard. But the more you give in the more that friend will make demands on you. You feel resentful towards them, but they have a way of making you feel unreasonable, and you capitulate.

Saying ‘no’ to your boss who makes unreasonable demands on you makes you angry but you get worried that if you refuse you won’t get that promotion or worse still you may lose your job. Everyone else in the team works long beyond their contracted hours, so how can you let the team down.

Saying ‘no’ to a partner when they bully or abuse you verbally, emotionally or physically, accepting their apologies, excuses and promises that they won’t do it again.

That was me several years ago. I got myself into a relationship that didn’t feel right from the start. He wheedled his way into my life, doing nice things for me, helping to renovate my house, which was kind, but I didn’t ask him to do it. I felt sorry for him, as he had had some bad experiences and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. At the same time, I didn’t value myself. I lacked self-esteem and wasn’t able to stand up for myself. I felt no one would want me, as my marriage had previously ended in divorce and I hadn’t met anyone else. All too soon he started controlling my behaviour – where I went, who I saw and much more. He made veiled threats and I was too scared to end it. I was trapped and I became a nervous wreck.

Saying ‘no’ takes courage that we don’t have as a result of being worn down. And so we allow others to take advantage of us, but their demands become greater, and then our self-esteem hits rock bottom. We become alienated as we can’t share our situation with others. We feel too ashamed to tell our friends and family in case they judge us. Our boundaries are all over the place if in fact, we have any.

The harsh truth is that bullies cannot bully unless they have a victim. So when we stop playing their damaging emotional game they will continue, which can have devastating effects on us.

Until we value and respect ourselves no one else will. I took my courage in both hands and got myself out of that relationship. It wasn’t easy, but it was the best thing I ever did. I learned a lot from that experience and my confidence and self-worth, as well as boundaries in all areas of my life are much stronger.
You can tell your demanding friend you are sorry but you have made other plans, but you could arrange another suitable time, on your terms.

You can tell your boss that you have to leave on time as you have personal plans with the family. But you are prepared to stay a little later another evening to complete that important project. At the same time making it clear you are not going to make a habit of it.
By taking small steps, you are beginning to value yourself, putting in important boundaries.

You can stand up for yourself with your partner, who is bullying and abusing you. This situation can be so much harder to deal with. But take back your power and regain your confidence and self-worth. There is help out there. Confide in close friends and get their support. If they don’t, find friends who will be there for you. Contact the National Violence Helpline, who help women and their children who are suffering domestic abuse.

Take back your power and live your life – your way.

Read Wendy’s other fabulous articles here:  

Wendy Capewell is the author of:
From Surviving to Thriving in a Romantic Relationship

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