No Is a Complete Sentence!

Declining obligations imposed by others

Posted Apr 09, 2012

What do you do with people who volunteer you for tasks that you’d rather not do?

  • “Do me a favor, will you? I don’t have anyone to look after the dog.”
  • “What do you mean you don’t you have time to help me paint the house? You’re on vacation.”
  • “Could you make a pan of that delicious lasagna of yours? I’m expecting about thirty people, and I’m such a horrible cook.”
  • “I thought you could be in charge of manning the picnic grill.”

And so on.

      And yet burdening oneself with others’ problems is devilishly easy to do. Why is it common to give in to demands that we know we are going to resent later on? Why do so many people feel guilty about saying no only to find themselves roped into fundraisers, bridal showers, and the like when they’d rather be doing something else?

      They respond because Homo sapiens is a social animal. Coming to the aid of another human being is wired into us and further reinforced through cultural upbringing. In other words we can’t help but want to help—a crying baby, the sick and defenseless, someone bitten by bad luck. So many situations arouse natural sympathy, and our parents raised us to be kind and thoughtful on top of that. But there are limits, especially in today’s world where there are so many demands on one’s attention. It is commendable for one to feel sorry for another’s predicament, but that doesn’t mean you have to fix his or her problem. The issue here is setting boundaries: choosing them, declaring them, and enforcing them. Failing to do so will leave you open to emotional vampires who can drain you of energy and goodwill.




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