How Saying No Can Lead To Happiness by Author and Advocate Thomas Iland
Thomas Iland: I had been a “Yes” man a good portion of my life. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I wanted to make friends. That would often mean I would say or do things that I didn’t necessarily want to.
And it’s interesting that you mention your best self because two years ago my mother asked me the question “If you could tell self-advocates (those are people with autism and other disabilities) one thing, what would it be?” And I responded:
1. Know yourself
2. Love yourself
3. Be yourself
It’s the mantra that I live by to this day and it helps me and can help others be their best selves because by knowing you have a disability, how it effects you both positively and constructively and then loving yourself, realizing yes, you have a disability, but you are still worthy and capable of love and by being open to the opinions and suggestions and the considerations of others rather than putting up walls “Nope, nope, I don’t want to hear it.” Being open to what others say, that can help you become your best self. You still get to be yourself, but by being open to others you can become your best self.
And putting my time, effort and energy toward something that is going to help others in the long run I would say because a lot of times in the accounting department or at least where I was working, there were short-term obligations and audits for items or things that wouldn’t really matter in a couple of years. I wanted to reach people on a personal level and change their lives forever, have a more long-term effect because stories (especially the stories that I have) can work wonders and go a really long way and be remembered for very long time. And it was better and more beneficial to me than to work an accounting job where things wouldn’t really matter after a couple of years.
as Dr. Seuss said “Say what you want to say, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
I did develop greater self-love and that’s part of the ‘love yourself’ part of my mantra because I had been a ‘yes’ man a good portion of my life. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I wanted to make friends but that would often mean I would say or do things that I didn’t necessarily want to. As a result, that ate away at my happiness. So I’ve found over the years that saying “no” and creating healthy boundaries, especially if you are legitimately unavailable or are not aware of how to help a person in that particular situation, that you can say no and as Dr. Seuss said “Say what you want to say, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” So really those who are most genuine and care about me most even if I have to say no, they’ll be like “Okay, I’ll find someone else.”
Another thing (rather than leave them hanging) I’ll say “I can’t help you with this, but I do know who can.” or “I can help you with this way instead.” I’ll offer some kind of alternative instead of just leaving them hanging. But that’s really what help me discover that I have to look out for myself first. Because if I’m not my best self, if I’m kind of dragging myself along not being the best version of me then that’s not going to help others.
Question: Is it hard for you to tell someone no?