Sounds fairly simple doesn’t it the word no?
But actually, it’s one of the most difficult things to put in to practice. How many people can say they are proud to be assertive? Even if you’re quite good at putting it into practice it doesn’t always feel good.
In 2018 I started listening to Fearne Cotton’s podcast “Happy Place”
Fearne delves into the subject of Happiness through chatting to individuals who have either made a change in their own lives or who help people find a different way of looking at life. Something about her interview style has sent my mind into a spin. If you haven’t already, listen to it immediately and thank me later.
One that particularly sticks in my mind is when she interviews yoga inspiration Zephyr Wildman who sadly lost her husband to cancer. In the interview, Zephyr speaks candidly with Fearne about dealing with her grief whilst managing to keep it real and gain self-awareness. She spoke about changing her friend circles and being accountable for her feelings. And most importantly knowing yourself and knowing when to say NO.
Her circumstances were, of course, a lot more extreme than my own but I still found her way of healing herself from mental trauma very helpful to my own issues.
My upbringing was precarious at the best of times, with me often feeling let down and, in turn, leading me to become unable to know myself and eventually losing all confidence in asserting myself in adult life. I was always a bit of a ‘sheep’ growing up and would just go along with whatever was asked of me. I honestly didn’t think that I minded.
You can imagine my horror that as I grew up I learnt that you are faced with all kinds of trials and tribulations that you really should just decline but you have no idea how to!
I felt stressed and uptight attending parties where excessive alcohol and drugs were present, knowing that I’d have to get fully immersed in at least one activity. I chose alcohol. All I actually wanted to do was go home and put my dressing gown on with a cuppa! The number of times in my teenage years I’ve ended up in the bed of some random that I ‘kinda knew’ just because all my friends were doing it, and again, I didn’t know how to say no.
All this kind of behavior is damaging, and it is only in the past 4 years or so that I’ve learned that I’m allowed to say “I DONT WANT TO” you can actually say that, you know! Crazy right?
My friend circles have shifted back and forth over the years, depending on my mood. Still, I now realise the importance of needing to be surrounded by people that will improve your life and not drain it. It’s been hard, but slowly and surely, I’ve managed to pull myself away from the energy drainers and swayed more towards the people that fill my life with happiness and make me feel good. I recently discussed this with one of my close friends, who couldn’t believe she hadn’t tried the art of “NO” sooner. Seriously, guys, it’s a great feeling.
I sometimes get a little “No” happy, though, almost like a big fat middle finger up to all the times I didn’t say it. And obviously, I don’t always say it. I would help my friends and family out in a heartbeat. Still, I also know when someone’s taking the piss, i.e., going to do the weekly big shop for someone AND paying without the balls to remind her to pay me back just because she asked me to… ahem… Interestingly, my newfound confidence has lost me ‘friends’ over the years…
And i couldn’t be happier.