The word ‘no’, when taken in a social context, is most often associated with negative feelings, an unfriendly attitude, perhaps an unadventurous character or an uncompromising person.
Be honest – have there been times when your friends or partner asked you to do something or go somewhere you were uncomfortable with, and you replied in the affirmative in order not to appear rude or boring, or simply not to be a ‘party-pooper’?
Being a ‘yes-man’ is not as great as it’s made out to be. Accepting something, and maybe even pretending you’re enjoying it, simply to appear more sociable, more hip or more like other people, not only shows that one gives more importance to appearances rather than to one’s own individuality and preferences, but also points to a lack of self-confidence and self-worth.
When you say ‘yes’ in order to blend in or to please someone, you’re inadvertently admitting to yourself that your own choices and needs are less important than someone else’s and less worthy of respect. Of course, finding a compromise when different people have different tastes and wants is very important, particularly in a relationship. However, the art of compromise itself implies that two or more parties first and foremost express differing views. When you comply with an idea you don’t agree with, without even expressing the mere fact that you don’t really want to, you’re actually acting as though your personal opinions are worthless due to your fear of rejection by a partner, a friend or a group of friends.
This attitude brings one to the obvious conclusion: Do your friends like you because you are you, or because you always do what they say? Do they even actually know your true character, since most of the time you hide what you really feel, in order to appear more pleasant?
When I was younger and perhaps more impressionable, I used to value people’s good opinion of me more than I do today. As I matured in both experience and self-worth, I’ve come to realise that there’s a big difference between valuing my friends’ and family’s good opinion, and actually living my life for them, without taking myself into account. Yes, other people are important, but being happy with yourself and your own life is even more so. Never give appearances or ‘the norm’ precedence over your own well-being and peace of mind.
That being said, generally, I’ve noticed that most people seem to feel pressured into saying ‘yes’, when they really want to say ‘no’, for a number of reasons.
They aim to please
Most of us like to be friendly and pleasant. We don’t want to appear boring, old-fashioned or scaredy-cats. We go along with many schemes cooked up by friends or partners, even though we know deep in our hearts that nothing good will come of it or are just simply not interested. This attitude fortunately usually diminishes as we grow older and are less influenced by peer-pressure… but not always. Some people transfer this behaviour from their friends to their partner, leaving him/her to make all the decisions while remaining comfortably ensconced in the background, following them without ever making any suggestions.
Your significant other is sick after an operation. You feel sorry for him/her. They say they really want to spend €2,000 on a new Bluetooth sound system in the living room. What do you do? Honestly, do you have the cold-blooded guts to straight-out say ‘no’? Or do you try to buy time and mumble ‘we’ll see’? Hmm…
Fear of being rude
This one is self-explanatory. How many times have you been invited to someone’s house, having your hosts prepare a meal for you and then been too shy to tell them you really don’t like spinach? How many times have you had to grit your teeth and swallow unwanted tuna and spinach pie? Think about it.
Fear of rejection
You are out on your first date with that guy you’ve been dreaming about for ages, when suddenly he suggests that you go zip-lining. However, you’re terribly afraid of heights! What do you do? Do you laughingly admit your weakness and suggest something else, as any self-assured person would, or do you accept and pray for some kind of mystical deliverance? Food for thought!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being assertive and knowing your own mind. You’re not a bitch. You’re not a spoilsport. You’re not a bully. You’re simply saying what you feel and showing your emotions. You have the right to say ‘no’ and the right for people to accept your choice. Saying ‘yes’ because one feels trapped or pressured, or because one is afraid of losing one’s ‘image’ is not enough. Each time we do that, it’s as though we are unconsciously demeaning our own opinion and sense of judgement. Remember, in the end, no one will clap you on the back because you went along with what the majority wanted.