Do You Need to Learn How to Say ‘No’?

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Are You a Pushover?

I am…or at least, I was — not anymore though.

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” ~ Steve Jobs


The last couple of weeks have seen the Universe trying to get me to open my eyes to this straggling piece of personality debris that I need to close the door on — it’s been throwing some rather extraordinary curve-balls my way.

I have had all sorts of people vying for my attention, skills and time — some art clients, some friends and others, total strangers!

Could You Bend Over Just a Little Bit More?

I’ve always been a people-pleaser — yes, you know the type, the ones who bend over backwards to help others sometimes sacrificing their own time and needs in the process.

I always thought this was a good trait but how wrong I was!

Don't Be a Doormat

To be kind is a good trait.  To help others out when you can is a good trait.  To be used as a doormat is not a good trait.  To help others when they can, themselves, do the job is inhibiting their personal growth and development. This is where most of us go wrong. We feel that we love someone, so, being ‘soft' is being caring. Wrong! Being a soft place to fall is stopping their personal growth.


Ever heard of tough love? It's when you love someone so much that you grow a backbone and say ‘no'. It doesn't mean you stop caring or loving them, it simply means you are strong enough to set healthy boundaries and still go on loving them (even if you have to do it from a distance).

“To teach someone how to do something, once off, is empowering them to do it for themselves in the future.  Doing it for them is stripping them of their power and making them reliant on you.”

I am the kind of person who thinks that if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well.  I’m also the kind of person who will do the entire job myself because it’s quicker than teaching someone else how to do it.

Big mistake!

Are You Helping or Hindering?

You are not helping anyone out by doing it all yourself.  It’s like that old fishing metaphor —  teach a person how to fish rather than fishing for them.

To teach someone how to do something, once off, is empowering them to do it for themselves in the future.  Doing it for them is stripping them of their power and making them reliant on you.

What really gets to me is the lack of politeness when some people ask for a favor.  Have you ever had someone not use that simple word ‘please’?  Or even better, you do the job and you don’t even get a thanks. This kind of personality type is sometimes referred to as the ‘sense of entitlement‘ persona — and, boy, are there a lot of prima donna's out there!

Here’s a rather ludicrous example of one of my tests this week:

A young man approached me on facebook to have a look at a quote he had made up himself.  He wanted to know if it was any good.

I read it over.  It was a typo/grammatical moosh-mash and didn’t make much sense at all.  I assumed that English was not his mother tongue.  The phrase was also way too long for the short sentence he was really trying to put across.

So — the fool that I was — corrected the grammar and spelling mistakes and rephrased the entire thing for him.  When I wrote back to him he said, ‘Oh, I guess I should pay more attention to what I am doing.  I was watching the telly when I wrote that.’  Not a ‘thank you’ in sight or a ‘sorry for wasting your time’.

Unbelievable.

But, I'm grateful for the experience because it's taught me a lot…let me explain:

Who’s to Blame?

I had spent good time on this thinking I was helping out someone who desperately wanted to be heard.  The joke was on me.

Then it dawned on me — it wasn’t even his fault for wasting my time, it was mine.

I let him waste my time.  I should have just told him to use his spell check but, no, I had to go and rework the whole thing.

Life’s Lessons Learned

“Now, I give you fair warning, either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!” ~ The Queen (Alice in Wonderland)

Now the new me is rethinking my attitude towards being a sucker — thank you Universe! I know that there are going to be loads of pushovers out there reading this, so my advice to you is:

  1. Discernment — can you ascertain if the person asking for your help is in genuine need of it or are they being lazy?
  2. Teaching — if this person really needs your help, are you going to do everything for them or are you going to teach them the ropes?  It’s so vitally important that people learn how to do things themselves, being independent is a marvelous trait and gift.
  3. Wastrels — the last on this list is a warning.  There are people out there who, either inadvertently or purposefully, will waste your time.  Be a bloodhound and learn to sniff these people out quickly.  You need to banter with this kind of person initially to find out where they stand.  You can just ask a series of short sharp questions to discern how wafty they are or not.  If you are feeling that there answers are not direct or resolute, leave them alone.  They are time wasters.  If they can’t figure out what they want, how are you going to?  You aren’t, you are just going to get stuck in their net of indecision and end up with a headache and anger issues.

Read related article: Fire Up Your Confidence With These Simple Yoga Poses

Grow a Pair!

You don’t have to be cruel or unkind when you stand up for yourself, your time and priorities — this is your life and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to or have the time for.

I guarantee that they will get over your refusal.  More importantly, the ones who cannot get over your decision are the ones you don’t need in your life anyway.

True friends and family members will understand and respect your space and choices.

“I don’t take crap from anyone, so that makes people think I’m rebellious. I’m not. I’m just not a pushover.” ~ Kat Dennings

I hope you come away from this blog with a more resolute stance.  It is heavenly to practice kindness but it is damaging to let someone else take advantage of your goodness.  Your job is to identify when the line has been crossed.

I have reworked this well-known adage to fit in with the theme of this blog (I think it works rather well)…”Use me once — shame on you.  Use me twice — shame on me!”

Good luck. :)

Let me know of examples where you have stood your ground, you may be able to help someone else out in the process.

Related article: 17 Ways to Manage Stress (That Actually Work)

CRDCherie Roe Dirksen is a self-empowerment author, multi-media artist and musician from South Africa.

To date, she has published 3 self-help and motivational books and brings out weekly inspirational blogs at her site www.cherieroedirksen.com. Get stuck into finding your passion, purpose and joy by downloading some of those books gratis when you clickHERE.

Her ambition is to help you to connect with your innate gift of creativity and living the life you came here to experience by taking responsibility for your actions and becoming the co-creator of your reality. You can follow Cherie onFacebook (The Art of Empowerment — for article updates). She has an official art Facebook page (Cherie Roe Dirksen – for new art updates). You can also check out her Facebook band page at Templeton Universe.

Cherie posts a new article on CLN every Thursday. To view her articles, click HERE.

This article (Do You Need to Learn How to Say ‘No'?) was originally written for and published by Conscious Life News and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author Cherie Roe Dirksen and ConsciousLifeNews.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this Copyright/Creative Commons

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6 Reader Comments

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  1. nihccyen@gmail.com' CC says:

    Thanks for writing this article! Very much an empowering piece of advice for me, especially when I am currently in a situation where I feel like I’m on a guilt trip for something that I shouldn’t be compromising for. I will take your advice to heart! 🙂

  2. kyleelowande@gmail.com' Kylee says:

    Thank you for writing this, I am constantly finding myself in positions where I am over extending myself to help others but I find that it’s very rarely anyone else’s fault. I have this need to please everyone and it’s really taking its toll on me. For example an aquantance/friend sent me a fb message containing a short bio about herself that she needed to use for a volunteer program, she asked me to read it over and offer her any advice I could. After reading it I dropped what I was doing and went to my computer and re-wrote the entire thing. I spent a good 30-40 mins on it and sent it to her only to find out that she went ahead and submitted her original one because I was taking to long to reply. I have done similar things time and time again and each time I hate myself more for it. I am so busy trying to help, please and fix everyone else that I am miserable in my own life.

  3. jeffhand409@yahoo.com' jeff says:

    My grandma used to tell me:”Put your tongue in the roof of your mouth and say ‘NO'”.
    Good post CRD!

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