Many years ago I was weak. I believed that for people to like me I had to go out of my way and say yes to their requests.
To give you some context, the requests weren’t outrageous demands; like, do this now or else this will happen to you kind of thing.
One of these requests was as simple as picking a friend up on the way to basketball training and it’s here I’ll pick the story up.
I had a car and he didn’t. We both lived at home with our parents who had cars but as young athletes we enjoyed each other’s company and sharing a car was fun.
But he lived out of the way so I had to make a mile detour and this was the problem; the extra mileage meant more petrol and working only part time I was short of cash so paying for petrol was a big deal for me. I suggested he begin to pay me for the journey which he agreed to but then kept coming up with excuses.
Over the next few weeks the thought of not picking him up kept floating into my head and each time it did, I made excuses for him. I was putting his needs before mine.
What If he can’t make it?
What if he falls out with me?
But the pain inside grew and grew. The ache of disappointment in myself began to cloud my judgements and well-being. I created scenarios in my head, all of which were negative and showed him suffering. I placed myself below him in the importance rankings. Not once did I imagine the outcome would have a positive benefit for me. Something had to change!
I learnt to say ‘No!’
I remember a build up of tension on the day. I felt awkward and unsure but I knew this was the day I’d finally say ‘no!’
“The tension built – could I say ‘no’?”
Every week I called him to arrange the pick up time so as usual I made the call but this time there would be a different outcome.
I created the worse case scenario in my head, as we often do when challenged with changing the status quo and felt nervous right before I told him I couldn’t pick him up.
So I’m there on the phone and he picks up.
I tell him that this week I can’t pick him up and can he make his own way there.
I don’t think I gave an excuse as to why, but this was the moment! This was the moment when my world would come crashing down! I’d lose a friend, I’d probably be in an accident later as punishment, and I’ll never be the same player again! I’d stop playing basketball through guilt and be forced to make new friends!
That was it! There was no drama or fallout. A simple one word answer. What had I been worried about? Why did I create such negativity around such a simple task?
Over the years I learnt more about compassion for others and myself and it’s this message I need to share with you because I believe there are many people out there who struggle as I did and need to gain a new perspective.
I learnt the following about compassion.
Compassion for others doesn’t mean bowing down to their suggestions or agreeing with their beliefs, values and ideas. Compassion for other’s doesn’t mean helping them when they can help themselves. Compassion for others doesn’t mean saying ‘yes’ all the time to make them feel better.
Compassion for others starts with having compassion for yourself.
“The true power of compassion”
Compassion for self is understanding who you are and what you represent because once you understand who you are and what you represent, showing true compassion for others is given with real passion and purpose and both parties feel the positivity of the act.
Learning to say ‘No’ leads to a positive realignment of expectations and a shift in perception for you and others.
People will begin to adjust to you. Either that or they will leave your life and if they can’t appreciate the true you, then they aren’t worth having in your life.
You don’t need to explain yourself with an excuse. It’s good enough just to say ‘no’ and then move on. I believe creating an excuse adds a layer of uncertainty which can lead to questions later on. If they ask why not, be polite and respond by politely telling them, it’s just a no.
Learn to connect with yourself before giving to others. Learn to appreciate yourself before giving to others and know that although questions will sway your immediate decision, once you show compassion for yourself, life suddenly becomes easier.