Courage for No

As I grow older, I think I am becoming what I think my parents and aunts and uncles are these days: obstinate.

Perhaps it’s a combination of life’s little experiences which make me rabid for what I believe in. It could be that I’m finding white hairs on my head (why do people call it grey when it’s really white?). And I’m infinitely less patient with fools compared to when I was in my 20s.
Whatever it is, I sometimes have enough of saying yes that it’s a pleasure to say no. When I was younger, I had this crazy fear of saying no. Saying no was like being a sour puss, party pooper, wet blanket. I always obliged. ALWAYS.
What I got in return was more problems and challenges. I accepted friends’ faults blindly and always justified them to myself. I always gave them the benefit of doubt. I always rooted for them. That was pure blind loyalty.
Eventually, I realised that I was going nowhere. I was turning into an unhappy sob just because I bloody couldn’t say No emphatically.
This year, I said No courageously to many people. Because I finally understood that saying yes to others meant saying no to myself.
I’ve stopped berating myself for my past mistakes, particularly friendships where I was the only one giving and giving and not getting anything in return except probably anger and resentment. I’ve let go of a few relationships this year because I am finally seeing the light – that some acquaintances are much better afar.
I’m giving up these relationships because sometimes I can’t give anymore. It’s too tiresome. It makes me feel like a fool too.
But that doesn’t mean I’m jaded. If you have a couple of bad relationships (especially friendships) just hanging in there, it’s best to decide what you want to do with them. Once you make your decision, you’ll feel so relieved!
I’ve always believed that people enter my life for a reason. But sometimes, they enter for a short phase, sometimes longer. Our life directions are not in the right direction so I must let go before I get too caught up with negative emotions like anger and frustration or worse, a litany of “I told you so”.
Try saying no sometimes. It’s ingrained in us that we should always play nice and be good girls. I haven’t told my parents why my best pal and I parted ways recently. They’ve seen us both grow up and think my best pal is still my best pal. I think I shan’t break their hearts too roughly – it’s often difficult to explain why we just drifted apart. Sad, of course, but inevitable.
Whatever it is, try purging some bad and deteriorating relationships out of your life. You tend to feel better. And you learn that you can move on with courage and grace.

8 thoughts on “Courage for No”

  1. Hi Vern: Ah yes. I got around to thinking of the kind of relationships I had and what I really want from it. For the first time in many years, I think I am moving on with my life. I often thought I should pick up the phone and call her, but I know it’s useless. We’re past that stage already. It’s like chewing gum. After some time, there’s no taste and it’s no point trying to chew for more flavour. The flavour’s gone. See my analogies? Always to do with food *brightens up a bit*

  2. i agree with you.
    “… saying yes to others meant saying no to myself.”
    you brought me to remember a time where i wanted and tried to join the “in” gang and ended up making life difficult for me.
    it is only after you have accepted the fact that you’ve tried your best to make things better yet not succeed, that you move on, and move-ed on feels good.

  3. Hi u-jean: Yes, you summarised for me what I was trying to say! I read somewhere (probably from one of those new age books about self love) that in order to succeed in living, we must know when to move on. Moving on feels great. Moving on makes you thankful you had those times but hey, you are living in the now and now is even better than then. What’s done is done. The important thing is to learn how to value ourselves first (sans guilt) before we start valuing others.

  4. I’ve the same problem saying no…..
    Perhaps it’s an Asian thing.We are not encouraged to be confrontational.I see many choosing to sweep things under the carpet than to confront issues and clarify matters.Sometimes I do not have the energy to do the right thing ( you know it takes more to oppose than to go with the flow) and let things slip but whenever possible,I try to do what I feel is right .If saying no is honouring your feeling then I certainly think there is a place for that .

  5. Hi Tze: I believe it’s an Asian concept of not wanting to offend each other that make us refuse to refuse. On the bright side, we probably have less wars. On the flipside, we have a lot of inside turmoil – to say or not to say? To argue or to shut up. To be speak out and be unpopular or to stay silent and be popular. Makes people truly mental!

  6. The Thai’s even have a word for it, “Kreng Jai”. Hahah…sorta like sums up everything ina nutshell. Problem is there’s no direct translation for the meaning of the word in English.
    It’s sorta like a combination of giving face, knowing where you stand, not wanting to offend…etc…

  7. UnkaLeong: That’s Asian – we even have a word for not wanting to offend. But that Thai’s are one of the most gracious people I know (my aunt’s Thai) and they’re always smiling! I bet it’s even harder for a Thai to say no. 😉


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