Some people find it really hard learning how to say no, even though they don’t want to do the specific thing they’re asked to do.

A few weeks ago, I was at some sort of party that included a two-hour dancing lesson. It started around 8 PM and I was a bit tired. After 30 minutes of dancing, I decided that I want to take a break and eventually I stopped dancing. But people didn’t agree.

They were trying so hard to make me dance that they started screaming at me that I should dance. A few girls even started inviting me to dance and, when I refused, the whole group insisted that my gesture wasn’t polite.

The next day I realized two things.

First, people will always want you to do something, even though you don’t want to, simply because they think you should do it.

Second, this idea of saying no has two sides: the one where you want to say NO and another one where you have to accept when someone is telling you NO. Somehow, they’re related.

I’ll take them one by one and discuss them a bit – maybe even try to understand what is going on and why the word NO has so much power.

People will always want you to do something

The first thing that comes to mind is the amazing ability to give advice when you are not capable of putting that advice into practice.

You’ve probably had in your life people who were recommending you to do something and they weren’t capable of implementing that into their lives, even though it would have been a great fit for them too.

I remember that a few years ago I was really trying to lose weight and I was receiving lots of advice from people who could barely run 1 km or not even that.

Therefore, why everybody (or most people) seem to always be knowledgeable when it comes to giving advice but when it comes to putting into practice is like only a few know what they have to do?

While there are lots of reasons and studies that can show us why we’re more likely to give advice than to put that specific advice into practice, I believe it’s more important to ask ourselves this question.

Therefore, why do you feel like you can give advice to someone but you can’t put that advice into practice? Are you even aware that you’re doing it?

One of the reasons could be that giving advice doesn’t require any physical effort and, therefore, it’s easier.

Another reason could be that when it comes to our lives, we are too attached to it, and when we first look at it, we see it more complex than it is. Which makes it harder to come up with a practical solution.

Whatever the reason may be, if you find it easy to give advice to people and find it hard to implement that advice into your own life, then you’re living an illusion.

Somehow, this illusion is the result of two things:

  • First, you believe you’re helping others. That’s an illusion. To be able to properly offer advice, first you have to truly understand what the other person is going through. Most of the time, we’re just providing advice without trying to understand more than what we see.
  • Second, you’ll waste time and energy. If you’re not truly helping, it means you should find other things to do with your time and energy. In the last years, I ended up focusing more on my problems just because I stopped trying to help others. And by focusing more on my problems, after a while I was able to also help others better because I was more experienced with problem-solving.

I find it sad how people try to help people but they are not willing to help themselves.

Some people hate themselves so much that when it comes to helping themselves, they would rather do nothing. But when it comes to helping others, they would get involved so much because there’s nothing to hate.

But that’s a trap because, in order to help someone, you have to really know that person. Otherwise, how are you going to help? And it’s a dangerous trap because others may not be willing to let you in their lives. Therefore, you end up in a place where you’re constantly trying to help but you’re not really helping.

If we go back to where we started, we can say that people are more inclined to tell you what to do because they don’t feel comfortable telling themselves what to do.

To look at this from another perspective, I can say that I know myself really well and I know my problems better than anyone else. More than that, I’ve been trying (without that much success) to solve my problems and maybe I’m tired of trying. Therefore, all my past experiences related to me trying to solve my problems create this present moment where I’m more comfortable with helping others than helping myself.

But that’s an illusion because others may not want my help or their lives may have even more problems than my life. And the more problems you have, the harder it will be for you to open up to someone and let them help you.

How to say NO and accepting the NO

I believe that saying NO has a lot to do with the clarity you have.

If you know why you’re saying NO, then it doesn’t really matter why others will want you to do something.

But knowing why you’re saying NO requires a lot of effort that has nothing to do with the present moment. For example, if I’m asking you to lend me one thousand dollars, your ability of how to say NO has nothing to do with that specific moment. Instead, your ability to say NO has a lot to do with how well you know yourself, how well you know your budget (if you can or can’t afford lending money to someone else) and how aware are you of the relationship between us. After all, you won’t simply lend money to some stranger or to someone you don’t trust.

Therefore, learning how to say NO has a lot to do with the clarity you have over your whole life. Yes, the more you are aware of your whole life, the more clarity you’ll have. And that clarity will also help you understand how to say NO and decide that a NO is a NO, not a MAYBE.

On the other hand, accepting the NO has little or nothing to do with clarity, but with letting go.

When someone is telling you NO and you can’t accept it, it means that somehow you’re attached to that specific thing you’re requesting. The harder you’re going to chase it, the tougher it will be for you to let go and eventually accept the NO.

For sure, there are cases where chasing something may be good. But as much as that, it can be really harmful. And this is where something even more important appears in the equation: the ability to analyze how much you’re chasing and decide when to let go.

If you let go too fast and you’re usually quitting after one try, then you may lose some opportunities because sometimes you have to try more than once to have the results you desire. If you chase too hard and you’re usually chasing what you desire until you have it, then you may lose some opportunities because you only pay attention to that one thing and you ignore everything else.

People will always tell you what to do

With this being said, people will always have the reasons why you should or shouldn’t do something. And that you can’t control. Instead, you can control the way you see things, the clarity you have over your life, and learn how to balance the rapport between chasing and letting go.

With love and optimism,
David

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