Monday, November 9, 2015

THE LIFE-CHALLENGE SERIES: "YOU GOT SOME 'SPLAINING TO DO!"


Actually … ya don’t! Have you ever stopped to look at how often you explain your reasons to people about things that, to be honest, are just none of their damn business? There is sooo much unnecessary explaining going on in the world, and it’s all because we’re afraid of some kind of excommunicational (nope, not a real word; nope, don’t care!) consequence if we say no to people without laying our whole story on the line. We want them to approve and not be mad. Or, if they are mad, at least we will have stated our case in an effort to get them to understand our position, which was oh-so necessary for the good of our relationship/connection, right? Not ! Let’s be honest: most of the time, when people ask you to do things you don’t wanna do, if it’s not your boss or someone you really do owe a decent explanation (you know who those people are in your life; I don’t need to list them), all you really need to say is no, and keep it pushing, whether they like it or not.

This may sound cold, but I don’t care. The way I see it, as the grown-ass women and men we all are, we really don’t have too many people to answer to other than bosses, people in law enforcement, maybe a random teacher here and there, and possibly a spouse/significant other <-------- (possibly … depending on what the spouse/signif other is asking for). And if you’re not grown yet, well, sorry, but you might have to say yes when you don’t want to, and/or explain yourself to your parent(s) if you take a stab at a bold no, especially if you’re living in their house.

Listen. People want what they want from us, and they don’t like no. Many times they tend to be nosy, pushy, and act entitled when that’s what they get. I know I don’t like being told no when asking for what I want. Too bad, though, because the reality is, people are allowed to turn us down, and they shouldn’t have to be subjected to questioning about their decision afterward.

You’re allowed to say no, too (this includes changing your yes to a no), and this post is about getting comfortable with saying it and not justifying it every time, or at all, unless it’s really necessary. So, lemme ask you: are you aware of the many lovely ways there are to say no? Oh, there are quite a few, and I’ve used them all, depending on who’s asking for what, who they are to me, and if I care about any future interactions with them. There are some people I just say no to, flat out. No synonym phrases on deck. No feeling uncomfortable about it before, during, or after. Just no, and this convo is over. Bye. You mad? Meh … don’t care. But there are plenty of times when I’m not so comfortable slapping folks upside the head with a hard no, attached to the “And don’t ask me why, either,” tone. There are times when I feel the conversations would end better with a softer rejection, but still no explanation because it’s still none of their business what I decide to do with my time and life, and why. If I’m being frank, there are times when I’m truly uncomfortable with the no I know I’m about to hand someone, afraid, even, because hey, I’m human and flawed and the thought of some people’s adverse reactions daunt me every now and then, especially if they’re important to me. But I’ve come to a point in my life where, even when dealing with people who do matter, I'm solid about that fact that there are things they don’t need to know; there are situations I just don’t feel like explaining or talking about; and that’s my right.

This brings me to those synonym phrases. They’re the best. The following is a short list of ways to say no, when no isn’t the word you're comfortable using:
 
  • That won’t work for me
  • It’s not in my best interest
  • I’m unavailable/I won’t be available (*my personal favorite and one I use frequently)
  • It conflicts with my schedule
  • I have other plans
  • I’m busy
  • I’ve had an unexpected schedule change (for when you change your yes to a no)
  • Now’s not a good time
  • I have some important business to take care of (for use in a now-no or a yes to a no)
  • Maybe some other time

The great thing about these replacements is that they’re all true, meaning you’re not lying to people. “I’m sick,” when you’re not sick, is a lie. “I can’t” is a lie most of the time (usually you can; you just don’t want to). Bringing other people and situations into your no, when they have nothing to do with it, is a lie: “I promised so-and-so I’d help him move.” “I have to take my car to the shop.” “I have to work.” “I’m doing/going to XYZ with my family.” Yeah, stop that, people. Just. Stop. Be grown. Quit all that lying. It’s not necessary. The list above provides plenty of honest exit routes. They all mean the same thing: I’m about to take care of me. Period.

You may beg to differ that some of those options are borderline lies, but let me school you right quick. If doing what you wanna do is at the center of those options, then there is no lie. “I have some important business to take care of” is not a lie. Why? Because whatever you feel you wanna do in place of their request is important business, even if it’s sitting around cutting your toenails, sipping tea while staring out the window, or binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix all day in your pajamas. Basically, anything you wanna do that you decide is in your best interest, that brings you peace of mind, and that puts you in the physical or mental space you wanna be, is justifiably important. Because that’s your job, all day, every day: to make sure you feel good, comfortable, and at peace, as often as you can. The same goes for the rest of the options. If you look at their wording, they’re all based on the fact that you’re putting yourself before some request that you feel would take you out of your peaceful zone, or put you in a stressful one if you say yes (or if you don’t change your mind about), and again, you need not explain yourself any further.

Will you dare be questioned by the nosy-pushy-entitled ones? Possibly. No matter how you say no, there may be times when people will attempt to not let you off the hook so easily. Stand your ground, people (I’m talking to myself, too!). Don’t let them lightweight bully you into engaging their discomfort with or dismay about your refusal to comply. Now, this may take a little more courage than you think you have, but if you get questioned, kindly repeat yourself. As in, “That won’t work for me.” “Why not? What’s the problem?” “It just won’t work for me.” “I heard you, but why not?” “It just won’t work for me.” “But tell me why, though? Why can’t you tell me?” *Very firmly: “It’s not gonna work. Sorry.” You’re probably not sorry, but that’s not the point. It’s not an actual apology; it’s a “shut-down sorry,” the polite way of letting people know you’re ending the discussion. At that point, depending on the means of communication, you kindly excuse yourself from the person. Nosy-pushy-entitled ones sometimes need to be dealt with in a special way.

This type of conversation can be had with any no, even if you use the word itself. If you wanna be in control of your life, time, personal space, and personal business, then I strongly suggest that you employ the repeat-yourself method if/when questioned unnecessarily. It may seem more effortful than just giving in and explaining … or lying, but in my experience, it’s really the healthier way to go. It’s like saying, “This is the only answer you’re gonna get. Deal with it.” If you’re feeling particularly courageous and snarky, you could just say, “Because I said so,” or “Don’t question me.” Boom. Crack their face. The point is, if you always let people push you into giving them what they want, even if it’s an explanation where none is needed, then your self-esteem will plummet. Your chances of feeling great about yourself while letting people run your show aren’t good.

If you really don’t mind explaining a situation or reason, then by all means, do it. I’m definitely not saying you should never explain yourself to people. That kind of decision is based wholly on how you feel about the act. If it feels right, natural, necessary, and totally non-stressful, then great. What I’m asking you to do is pay attention to how and when you give of yourself to people; and when you don’t want to, please, for the love of your peace of mind and self-worth, find a way to be strong and decline without lying.

I totally understand that there’ll be times when you’ll be confronted with super-difficult “no moments,” ones that pull at your conscience, for whatever reason. I’ve been there. They can be a bit tricky sometimes, especially if you feel indebted to the people who are asking of you (that’s a whole other post that’ll take place another day). But, alas, no matter how uncomfortable, what I know for sure is that if we don’t find a way to honor ourselves in these situations, then we’re gonna tumble downhill, fast, emotionally.

I know I’m damn sure not up for spending the rest of my days trudging back up to the self-esteem mountaintop. Are you?

Take good care of yourselves, and always remember to HONOR THE SPIRIT