I remember once, back in middle school, when we went through the drive through at some fast food place and they gave my mom the wrong order. She couldn’t force herself to go back to have them correct it. Confrontation was difficult for her. She didn’t make store returns, even when there were duplicate gifts. She didn’t answer the door when sales people came. She actually listens to telemarketers when they call, because she feels bad hanging up on them.
I tried to learn from all that, and I’ve done relatively okay. I can close the door on sales people and hang up on unsolicited calls. I can make returns when necessary. I definitely make sure I have the right food. At other times, though, I end up agreeing to things I don’t want to agree to when I’m put on the spot. A couple weeks ago, for instance, a local store called me about setting up some volunteer times. I’d gone to volunteer once at the request of a family member, and had to fill out a form while I was there. I didn’t really intend to go back – I have enough to do at home – but on this call, I allowed myself to agree to four shifts of volunteering that I didn’t really want to do. It took four days of anxiety and fretting to call back and tell them I needed to cancel and withdraw from volunteer duties.
It shouldn’t be that hard. I don’t know what it is about saying NO that is so difficult. It causes so much anxiety that it’s often easier to just accept the anxiety of whatever you’re saying YES to. Only when the YES anxiety outweighs the NO anxiety does it become worth it to decline (or cancel). And the whole thing is just ridiculous. I shouldn’t feel bad saying, “No thanks, I just filled out the volunteer form because a family member needed help that day.” But I do. And then I feel anxious about going. And then I feel bad about canceling. There’s no winning here. And this whole cycle is just stupid.
I’ve read about that one book about saying yes to everything for a year. I think I need the opposite. I need to just say no to everything for a good, long time and see what emerges from all that.
PS – I was mixed up on dates and wrote about Mother’s Day last week. So once again, happy Mother’s Day to y’all out there!