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How to say no

  • Published at 06:49 pm November 19th, 2018
Sometimes the word needs to be said
Sometimes the word needs to be said / BIGSTOCK

Our upbringing robs us of our assertiveness

Last week, I went to a bookshop and chose two books to buy. 

At the counter, I realized that I’d have to spend almost all the money I had in my purse to buy those books. I wanted to return one of them. So I hesitated, paused, and looked about before ultimately paying the bill. 

But guess what? I successfully ended up buying both books. I couldn’t muster the will power and say: “No, I don’t want to buy both books, I am happy with just one.” I just couldn’t. 

This happens to me all the time. 

Suppose I’m standing in a long queue at a bank. Some very happy looking unknown person comes to me and says “I have some very urgent work to do and I am running out of time. Can I stand in front of you, please?”

What I reply in my mind is: “Don’t we all have work to do, ma’am?” What I reply to her though is an “OK.” (With a smile of course. Always with a smile.)

My inability to say no lowers my self confidence day by day. I won’t even object when the editor who will go through this article will change some (or most) of my words, or maybe just cut this particular line off and then publish it. 

It’s a simple word -- and it takes nanoseconds to enunciate and pronounce -- no. Now I’m going to blame your parents, and your society a bit for raising you like this. 

This happens particularly to the youngest members of the family, as they are usually denied their rights to give opinions about serious matters. 

Being brought up in families where their opinions don’t matter, they either stop forming firm opinions, or stop voicing their opinions. They even feel uncomfortable when, later on in their life, they have to make important life decisions all by themselves. 

I mean, my mother wants me to choose the colour of the dress she chose for me. 

It comes in three colours. And all I want to say at that point is that I’m colour blind. “Just pick one. I don’t care!” 

We become extremely confused when we have to decide on something. We don’t trust our intuition because our loved ones never did. And this makes us irresponsible. I mean, who has ever learned to take responsibility for anything before learning to make decisions, and learning to make mistakes? 

You want to learn how to say no?

Then learn to say no to your parents who still want to control your life, even though you are most definitely an adult. 

Say no to your elder siblings who think they understand things better than you, just because they started breathing this polluted air of our city earlier than you did.

Take decisions by yourself, and be responsible for your actions. This builds the self confidence that you need to say no to random happy-looking advantage-takers that you deal with every day. 

And learn from mistakes -- don’t end up buying books from expensive bookshops and run out of money you need to get back home by Uber. Take decisions wisely. 

Sanjida Alam Ria is a freelance contributor.

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