Always say ‘no’ when you have to say ‘no’!

Being decisive about what you don’t want to do, or what you don’t want, in Life, is far more important than knowing what you want or may want to do.  
A young friend, who is barely 20, and is an adopted child of her foster parents, recently reminded me of this opportunity in staying decisive. She said her foster mother asked her, when she was seven years old, if she wanted to meet her biological mother. My friend says she decided back then that she did not want to meet her biological parents. Reflecting back on her choice, my friend says that her decision remains unchanged. “Why would I want to visit my biological parents? This is my family and I have the best parents in the world,” she declares without a trace of dilemma.
That clarity in thinking is as infectious as it is inspiring. Many of our relationship issues exist in the first place because of our inability to say ‘no’ to people over what they say or do to us. Worse, we end up saying ‘yes’ when we need to be saying ‘no’ – and we often say ‘no’ when want to say ‘yes’!
Why do we struggle to say ‘no’ to people who are being unreasonable with us? One of the primary, often subconscious, considerations is that we don’t want to ‘hurt’ them. Also to speak your mind to someone is often a disconcerting thought. Nobody wants to be seen as cold, in-the-face and inflexible. So, at the cost of our own discomfort, we end up trying to nice to people. Which is why we never say ‘no’ to people who end up being rude to us, to people who are opportunistic with us and to people who take us for granted.
Sometimes, in close family relationships, we end up having to face emotional blackmail – played out willfully or subconsciously. A mother, who is congenitally manipulative, may insist that her children overlook her divisive nature because she has toiled hard to deliver and raise them. Or a sibling may say that he deserves to be treated better – and may even seek material benefits – because he was deprived of them when he was growing up. A spouse may say that she has sacrificed more for the family than her partner has and so she will demand that her partner recognize – and reward – her in a more demonstrative way than is being done.
We can go on analyzing why we don’t say ‘no’ – and, honestly, we will go on discovering and inventing newer reasons to justify ourselves. But the way to look at this opportunity is to actually consider the value that saying ‘no’ to certain people can bring to our lives.

First, saying ‘no’ to someone means you are defining who you are and are setting out a framework – a code of conduct, if you like – for the way you wish to be treated. Second, this clarity, combined with you not having to forsake your real self, spares you the suffering. For, when you are living Life under restraint, not being who you truly are, behind all the glossy and “accommodative” exterior, you are suffering deep within. Third, when you are not suffering, you are free and happy! It is as simple as that. I am not sure my young friend employed these criteria, in such a structured manner, in making her choice not to see biological mother. But, from what she is feeling now – at being loved for and cared for by her foster family – her choice is indeed governed by what’s making her happy! That’s where the nub lies for you too – if saying ‘no’ will make you happy in any situation, with any person, simply say ‘no’. Don’t think. Just say ‘no’. Because, happiness also comes from being able to not do what you don’t want to do! 

Decide to be decisive in Life

There’s nothing good or bad, right or wrong about the way you live. Life is all about making decisions. And we are making them all the time. Obviously, no one wants to make wrong choices or decisions. So, even if you take a questionable__in the eyes of an onlooker__one, you keep at it because you believe it is the right thing to do. So, in reality, Life’s essence is about learning from each experience__drawn from decisions and choices you make__and being happy!

Understand that decision-making is intrinsically, always, fraught with risk. So if you are scared of the unknown, if you are afraid of taking risks and decide not to take decisions or exercise choices, now, that itself is a poor decision and a lousy choice. Let us say, this Monday morning, you have a choice between catching up on your mail or on facebook on the commute to work. You are here and reading this post because you chose facebook over mail. There’s a possibility you could have chosen your mail over facebook, in which case you would have missed the learning this post has to offer. Or possibly you could have chosen to do neither and simply ridden to work in silence. Now, riding to work quietly, choosing not to be distracted by anything, is a decision too. Any of these three decisions could mean something or nothing at all. Spending time on facebook could have cost you a customer opportunity. Or wading through hundreds of banal work-related mails, you could have missed connecting with an old buddy from school on facebook. Or you could have missed energizing yourself through embracing silence during the hour-long commute. So anything could have happened.

There are no set ways of doing things. Just as there are no assurances of outcomes. Simply, Life offers no guarantees. Life’s really about deciding what’s right for you at a moment, making that choice and standing by it, while learning from it.

Often times, your decision may blow up on your face. The world will say, “we told you so!”. But get up, dust yourself and move on. If not now, sometime soon, you will learn that it is perfectly fine to lose money, lose health, lose relationships and lose people in Life. Because nothing is permanent. And when you realize this through decisions and choices you have made, your awakening will be that much more complete. You will then know that although French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596~1650) championed that all choices must be logically thought out and only then executed (‘Cogito ergo sum’ – I think therefore I Am), too much analysis also leads to paralysis. It is enough if you know that every moment of your living, waking Life, you are making decisions. Some of them may work well. And you learn from them. Some of them may not work for you at all. The key is to learn from them too and resolve never to make the same mistake twice!