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Learning when to say ‘No’: An act of self empowerment

A ‘pushover’ is identified as someone who can be easily influenced or is easy to overcome. In a simpler context, a pushover would be someone who is a weakling, an easy mark or target to get by. Over the years of growing up and going through the hustle and bustle of emotional transitions, we tend to constantly work on giving some shape to our predisposed personality type. There can be no definite pattern or process to follow by which we work on re-modeling our personality, but the influences of our own internal and external factors cannot be ignored. The human prototype is such that, we evolve every day through our exposure to multiple people and experiences, which at large contributes in both minor and major ways in how we form an understanding of ourselves, how we reflect on our attitude and personality, how we envision ourselves to be, and make an attempt to identify where we are lacking.

In a large pool of people, we come across some who give off a very strong persona, some who are more likely to lead than follow, some who are easygoing and choose to go along, some who are highly opinionated and assertive in their actions, and some who choose to be silent either by choice or by coercion. However, no matter where we stand today and how we identify or define ourselves, we have all been a ‘pushover’ at a certain time at certain phases of growing up. Looking back we have undoubtedly found ourselves in a tight spot, uncomfortable and struggling to utter the word NO because we find it harder to deny and easier to comply. Now, the tendency to be compliant and its natural attribution to the inherent quality possessed by an individual is often used an explanation to defend one’s immediate action of being submissive and compliant towards others. Most often, not exclusively generalizing, but speaking with close speculation and observation, people who think that they are pushovers feel some uncanny pressure to not disappoint others by disagreeing and tend to over magnify the consequences to self if they ‘reject’.

It does not hurt sometimes to go along with others at the expense of our own interests and comfort but you need to know better when you should stop for yourself. You need to know that you always cannot run after things that you do not necessarily like or opt for just because someone you are extremely close with wants you to do so. Somebody wants or expects you to do it and you want or expect yourself to do it, there is a big difference between these two approaches. The more you feel like you need to adhere for the sake of pleasing others or keeping somebody else happy, the more you become inclined towards losing grip of your own affirmations, choices and perspective. As mentioned above, some people do give off an assertive front and that may be intimidating, and you can only see yourself as following their lead and lowering your tone. However, making yourself part of any relationship that consciously or unconsciously makes you act or be submissive is not healthy for your own personal growth.
When you want to decline an offer and feel like you are obligated to provide an explanation to justify yourself, just remember you do not have to. When you want to tell someone no, simply saying no is enough for you to communicate yourself. You do not need to provide any elaborate explanations in order to prove why you said no. Remind yourself everyday to try to be a little bit assertive where you feel it is necessary for you. If you feel any form of coercion, assert your position. You need to remind yourself that you have the freedom of choice, and that choice can be exercised for your own benefit and purpose.

You need to stop assuming that others might be upset or disappointed because you said no. Do not fear rejecting anyone and just focus on yourself. If you feel like you are always being taken advantage of and that you are on the losing end of every situation, it is now time to turn things around for yourself. Being a pushover does not necessarily mean that you are weak, it just means that you are missing the techniques you need to defend yourself. Identify the things that you do not want to do, express how you feel about things and simply learn to say no.

Written by Swasti Karmacharya, Psychology counselor at United Academy.