by Dr. Bill Austin
If we do not do what we agreed to do, we will
experience the stress of being around the
person to whom we made the promise.
Some of us have had difficulty saying no. We said yes when we wanted to say no. We felt pressure from the person asking and pressure from ourselves to say yes.
Consequently, we found ourselves resenting the other person for putting us in this situation and angry with ourselves because we did not say what we wanted to say.
Also, because we did not say no, we found ourselves feeling overwhelmed because we added another task to our to do list.
When we agree to do something we don't want to do, we often procrastinate, hoping that the other person will say the task doesn't need to be done or someone else will do it for us. We put off doing the job so long we run out of time to do it. Or, we do not show up for the unwanted project or appointment.
If we do not do what we agreed to do, we will experience the stress of being around the person to whom we made the promise. So, we wind up having to make up a lot of excuses or we try to avoid that person.
One of the reasons we do not say no is because many of us are 'people pleasers.' We want everyone to like us so it is important to do what they want. As a result, we treat their needs and happiness as more important than ours.
Some of the people we have difficulty saying no to are:
1. People in authority because they might hurt us in some way.
2. People who are struggling with an illness. How can we say no to someone who is ill?
3. People who are always doing good for everyone. 'After all, they have done so much for me and others how can I tell them no?' We do not want to appear selfish or uncaring.
4. People who will abandon us.
5. People who may need to do something for us later.
6. People who present themselves as victims. They complain that 'No one cares for me' so we set out to prove that they can count on us. In time we become their victims.
7. Our parents. We may find it difficult to say no to our parents who can put guilt on us.
8. Our children. Some of us have difficulty saying no and drawing boundaries with our children. This is especially apparent if there has been a divorce. We think since we have made our children's lives more difficult because of the divorce, we have to make it up to them. So we say yes more often than is healthy for them. Saying no to our children is difficult for us if we want to be their friend instead of their parent.
We are afraid if we say no or draw boundaries they will leave us. As a result we may be in conflict with our partner who is stricter than we are.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700