Just Say No: Removing Guilt From This Loaded Two-Letter Word

by Ginella Massa

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a YES man. I have a very hard time with the word NO. Whether it's saying I'm too busy to take on additional tasks at work, letting a store clerk weasle me into buying that extended warranty, turning down invitations to events I don't want to go to, or denying favours to family and friends. I've always struggled with saying how I really feel.

I sometimes look at friends with jealousy when I hear them say they won't be doing something because they "just don't feel like it." Those words just don't exist in my vocabulary. I wish the guilt wouldn't eat me up inside when I get that urge to politely reject a request, but it does. I always agree to go above and beyond to help out, no matter how much of an inconvenience it is for me. As a result, I'm the go-to problem solver, the one who will make time to help others, the generous giver who will put the needs of others ahead of my own.

Except that it's all a rouse. I've thought a lot lately about why I continue to do this to myself, and I've realized it's not just because I'm a selfless and inherently good person (although I sure like to think so!) It's because that's what I want people to think I am. I'm worried that if I say no, they'll think I'm rude, that I don't care about their friendship, that I'm selfish, that I'm not willing to think about anyone but myself. So I'll do it with a smile on my face, even when I'm resenting every minute of it. I'm just a people-pleaser.

The problem is when I do things to please other people, I'm doing myself, and them, a disservice. I'm being disingenuine by saying "really, it's no problem at all!" when it is.

So I've decided it's time to be honest with myself, and that it's ok to be a little bit selfish. As Hannah Horvath would say, "it's very liberating to say no to shit you hate".

I've made a commitment to focus on the things I genuinely want to do. Not just the things I feel obligated to do. I can't worry about what people will think of me. And sometimes, I just have to say no.

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About the Author

Ginella Massa is a Canadian journalist, producer, and media trainer. She became Canada's first Hijab-wearing reporter in 2015. Ginella  has worked for CityNews, CTV News, Rogers TV, and NEWSTALK 1010.  She frequently writes about issues affecting Muslims in North America. 

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