“To say yes to the right things, you have to say no to a lot of other things.” – William Ury

I cannot say no to people.

Clarification:
– I will not rob a bank for you.
– I excel at deflecting creepy people in bars.
– I am (generally) capable of making decent decisions.

Rather it can be said that I’m an over-committer – and I’ve realized that living this way is beginning to take its toll on me.

I’m a people pleaser to the core. Knowing that I made someone happy is what drives me. Especially given my chosen field (non-profit), it is of the utmost importance to me to do good for others.

On the other side of the coin, I avoid conflict at all costs. If I think that saying no to someone who asks anything of me (that isn’t completely impossible) will result in any kind of discomfort, or worse, disagreement, you can bet that I will give in.

Being helpful and accommodating is a crucial part of my identity. It’s important for me to think that people see me a giving person, one who goes out of her way to help others. And helping people has always given me a sense of accomplishment. Lately though, I’ve begun resenting people. I find myself thinking, “Why am I always being asked to do this?” and “This is the absolute last thing I want to be doing right now.” Especially when I continually prioritize other people’s needs above my own.

You know what? When you start resenting people for expecting you to be helpful, you’re no longer helping people for the right reasons.

I’m scared to tell people no because I’m afraid what they will think of me when I do. Being “nice” and dependable is the single part of my identity (and perceived value) that I feel I can control. Without those characteristics, what’s there to replace it?

I frequently find myself doing favors for people who I don’t know, or even more maddening, people who I cannot rely on in exchange. Although I am hyper-aware of this, I still can’t bring myself to turn people away. I am just far too frightened by the prospect that someone (gasp!) might see me as less than helpful.

How do you convince yourself that it’s okay to tell people no? And, no matter the outcome, feel that you made the best decision?

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