Since last week I have had several opportunities to say 'no'. I said 'yes' because I am spineless.
Three were over the weekend. Fail.
One was yesterday. A friend asked me to come over to have dinner with her, and, really, who am I to pass up a free meal. I did not want to go, but I did because she has been talking about buying one of those sandwich grills for the past year, and when I was grocery shopping at Walmart I found one at a ridiculously low sale price. So, I bought it for her a couple of weeks ago and yesterday's invitation was the perfect way to get it over there.
I got there and her daughter-in-law recently moved out and left some clothing behind. So, my friend thought that I would like them. They were fine, but seriously worn out and would have been too much work trying to repair them and remove all of the mystery stains. So, I declined and went home, taking my gift with me because she bought one of her own just last week. I get to try to return that to the store tomorrow after therapy and group.
Today brought two more chances to say 'no'. I did decline, but not by saying anything.
I have a pattern of doing or not doing for other people, and it quite distresses me to finally be aware of this. When someone asks me for something, well, they do not actually ask for whatever it is they want. They, and I pretty much mean every darn person I know, simply state a need and I jump in to volunteer. I am not saying that is entirely bad, it is nice to help other people and all that jazz. The problem is that I have trained people to get what they want without having to put it into words. I listen and just agree to that unspoken request.
Seriously, how fucked up is that. One of the library employees needs help with an on-line job application. The first statement of need was about my schedule, to which I replied that it was full all day. I did have an open appointment slot, but since he had not asked, I did not offer it to him.
Later, that person came to my bat cave and repeated the need for this application help, shared that he did not have time to get to a computer until Friday and then just smiled and waited for me to volunteer. I did not. I did not say anything in reply. He finally went away.
Now, were I being faithful to the concept and practice and assignment to actually say 'no', these would not qualify as successfully completing the task.
However, it is a deliberate choice on my part to no longer volunteer for everyone's needs, crappy, selfish or not. Not volunteering my services is a 'yes' to myself. And, I will not have to come to work on my day off and help someone who has become accustomed to using me.
And, that is another issue. If you allow/permit/train someone to take you for granted, misuse you even, then you cannot get all bent out of shape when they keep doing that. I have set a standard for how someone can ask me to do something for them...huge change, as they have to put the request in the form of a request. Crazy. Additionally, in additon to the actual asking thing, there will be times when my response will be a well-considered, calm and inarguable 'no'.