If you’re anything like me, you bristled at reading the title of this post, and at the concept that you could simply not do things you don’t want to do for the simple reason that you just don’t want to do them.
One feeling I talk to my clients about all of the time is resentment. They feel resentment towards their partners, their parents, their siblings, their coworkers, their friends, and themselves. Resentment comes up when we feel at the effect of someone else’s agenda. When we feel out of control in our own lives. When we feel we’re between a rock and a hard place. When we don’t think we’re being given a choice, or when we simply don’t want to be responsible for choosing.
In almost every situation where resentment is present, there is a betrayal of the self in the attempted appeasing of someone else. We rearrange our schedules when we didn’t want to to fit someone else’s….only to have them cancel altogether. We say yes to babysitting for an evening when we didn’t want to…and the parents come home later than they said they would. We loan someone money when we didn’t really want to…and they never pay us back. We shrug to ourselves and have sex with someone we didn’t really want to have sex with. We agree to go out with friends when we didn’t want to, and then we agree to drink what they were drinking even though we didn’t want to, and we stay out later than we wanted to, all because we just didn’t want to say “no“. The end of all of these stories is RESENTMENT because in each moment we abandoned ourselves by agreeing or offering to do things we really didn’t want to do.
This resentment hangover and any other undesired effects of doing things we don’t want to do could be avoided altogether if we simply get comfortable saying “no”. “I love you, and no“. “Thank you, but no". “Not tonight“. “Definitely not“. “No.“.
Oftentimes people fear that saying “no“ means angrily setting a strong boundary, or putting your foot down, or “finally standing up for yourself after all these years damnit”, but it doesn’t have to look like any of these things. Saying “no“ can really be that simple. It’s not a tirade, it’s not drama, it’s not retaliation. It’s a simple “no“ because it’s not a “yes“.
I hope you try this out this week. Start small if you need to, and be proud of yourself for doing that.