Sometimes we’re afraid of saying no because we know with every fibre of our being that this is exactly how we feel. And we mistakenly believe that it’s selfish to honour those feelings and disappoint someone.
But surely this renders our emotions useless? It turns us into the equivalent of a traffic light that only uses one of the three colours. We’re failing to utilise and develop our emotional intelligence when we act as if the only purpose our feelings serve is to remind us of where we have the potential to piss someone off.
Our emotions help to orient and push us to take action. Deciphering what we’re feeling helps us understand what’s going on around us as well as our inner state so that we can respond to our needs. By feeling our feelings and practising healthy boundaries, we grow in emotional intelligence. We recognise our emotions and learn how to read what might potentially be going on with other people (empathy). Consistently doing this allows us to update as we go so that we become more discerning and develop more intimate relationships and navigate to opportunities that honour our needs, expectations, desires, feelings and opinions.
Knowing that we truly need, want to or should say no, and then ignoring this because we think it’s “selfish” or that our no will lead to disappointing someone (and that this is bad), is a surefire way to disappoint and hurt ourselves.
Disappointment is a vital part of life. Without it, boundaries aren’t possible.
If we’re going to be able to treat and regard us and others with love, care, trust and respect, we (and they) have to be willing to say and show no when they need, should or want to.
How is anyone supposed to heal, grow and learn if we don’t experience disappointment that lets us know that we have misunderstood something or that we have something new to learn? How do we and others know what is and isn’t permissible if we’re all deluding each other out of fear of being selfish or disappointing?
Disappointment is part of grieving the loss of our hopes and expectations. Sometimes, what we and others want of us (and vice versa) is wrong. Sometimes it’s too much, bad timing, or whatever it is.
Knowing exactly how we feel about something that someone else expects of us is no bad thing. Let’s not waste the intel. Let’s definitely not infantilise the person by acting as though they’re too feeble to take a no. If they’re big enough to ask or expect it, they’re big enough to take the disappointment.
We can care about others and ourselves at the same time. If we don’t say yes authentically, we say yes resentfully, and that leads to far more problems than if we’d said no in the first place.