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The mouse that roared

(57 Posts)
Apricity Mon 15-Apr-19 22:33:47

This thread has arisen out of a discussion on another thread about difficulties some of us have saying 'no' to requests. The focus is on empowering ourselves and learning to say 'no' when we want to say 'no' in response to requests from family, friends or people from our local community or workplace without feeling obligated, pressured or guilty.

Another poster called herself a 'mouse' and a people pleaser and expressed the wish to be able to say 'no' more often and more comfortably. This thread is about empowering the mouse and cultivating the inner lion.

My own response is a simple "No, it's not convenient.", repeated if necessary without explanations, excuses or apologies. I do try to always be pleasant and polite but quite firm. We will all have different ways of doing this and the thread is a chance for sharing these and discussing options, strategies and personal experiences.

Over to you Grans.

Buffybee Tue 16-Apr-19 00:00:42

I had to teach my daughter this as she was becoming quite upset with a friend who was becoming pushy about wanting her company all the time.
So my stock answer when I don't want to do something,
I'd love to but........
I'm busy that day
It's not convenient
Let me get back to you.
etc etc

janeainsworth Tue 16-Apr-19 00:49:41

The best book I ever read was ‘A Woman in Your Own Right’ by Anne Dickson.
Published in 1982, it contains all anyone needs to know about being assertive, and standing up for your own needs without being aggressive or manipulative.

BradfordLass72 Tue 16-Apr-19 02:29:48

I would rather be known as a kind person who will go the extra mile, than a curmudgeon whom no one asks because they know they'll get a curt refusal.

Yes, I've been taken advantage of, many times and no doubt will be again but that's my choice and this modern, selfish me-me world needs people who show compassion.
Otherwise why are we in this world at all?

What I have learned, is to not allow people to make me feel guilty if I have a genuine reason to refuse.
I don't always give a reason, I just say, as nicely as possible, 'I'm sorry, I'm afraid I can't.'
If they push for a reason, as they sometimes do, I'll either reiterate, 'I just can't.' or say a little more forcefully, 'I have my reasons.'

But I don't let reasons turn into excuses. My 'no' means 'no', even if said with a smile.

Jane10 Tue 16-Apr-19 07:34:38

I'm all for being assertive in such a way that both sides feel OK afterwards.
Just a side note: further up the thread I saw the words 'people pleaser'. It reminded me of a person I know who often tells me that's she's a people pleaser. She's the most determinedly manipulative person I've ever met!! Be assured. This is not any of the posters here. The phrase just reminded me of my acquaintance. She's an 'awfy woman'!

GrandmainOz Tue 16-Apr-19 08:00:30

I really feel that I turned a corner around the age of 40. I've had various moments in my life when "something " has simply changed without any conscious effort and the arrival of greater self confidence was one of those odd progressions.
I will bend over backwards for my family whenever I can, but I now also employ the previously feared No when I need to without a second thought.
I was always the babysitter whose friends didn't reciprocate, the driver for people who'd rather inconvenience me than make more considerate arrangements, the exhausted guest at evenings out with people who drink too much or otherwise I don't really care for.
But around 40 the worm turned.
I spent most of today wearing myself out, but helping one of my DD's out of a pickle, and would always do so. But unimportant things which will inconvenience me, social situations that would give me the screaming abdabs....Oh thankyou, but No, I can't manage that.
Big improvement!

kittylester Tue 16-Apr-19 08:07:44

I agree with Bradfordlass. I will do what I can, if I can, because I think what goes around comes around.

If I am kind and helpful, I will receive kindness and helpfulness.

And, I will go out of my way to help my family. I know they would do the same for me.

Urmstongran Tue 16-Apr-19 08:32:17

Thanks for starting this thread Apricity!
I am the mouse and people pleaser! I will be curious to read further comments as to how one says ‘no’ without causing offence!

Are we born with a backbone or can we grow one?

kittylester Tue 16-Apr-19 08:40:20

But do you want one urmston?

Do you feel put upon or do you feel it's part of life's give and take.

It isn't necessarily wrong to want to be nice to people around you.

sodapop Tue 16-Apr-19 08:59:43

My 'no' has always stood firm. When my children and grandchildren were young they knew they could not wheedle their way round me. Their father/Grandad was not the same. I was always the disciplinarian in the house.

Sophiesox Tue 16-Apr-19 09:10:34

I don’t think the thread is about not wanting to be kind or helpful. It seems to be how to stop being a doormat who constantly gets walked on! I’m sure most posters here are kind and helpful and will go the extra mile. It’s not about me me me, it’s about having self confidence and not being a resentful victim of pushy people!

lovebeigecardigans1955 Tue 16-Apr-19 09:12:36

It's tricky, isn't it? There's a happy medium somewhere, I feel sure.
I do feel that learning to say no nicely but firmly is a very useful life skill. Wish I'd learned it when I was young and daft - it would have saved me a great deal of trouble.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 16-Apr-19 09:36:50

I bend over backwards (metaphorically) to help children/GC sometimes at the risk of annoying Mr Gravy. I have in the past cancelled appointments changed arrangements.

They all know that for the past 34 years H and I have gone out on a Friday night and that it is not going to be cancelled........our compromise is if they need a sitter on a Friday they have to accept the GC coming with us. The GC love this!!!!

In fact some Friday evenings we are joined by all GC, AC or a combination of!!!

Elegran Tue 16-Apr-19 09:42:00

I'd say the important phrase here is BradfordLass's "not allow people to make me feel guilty if I have a genuine reason to refuse" but with the addition that sometimes the "genuine reason" is your own needs - which may be just a bit of peace and quiet and TLC.

If you always put other people's convenience before your own, it can become automatic for them to assume that you will always do it, that they don't ever need to first consider an alternative solution. Bear in mind the flight safety instructions "Put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else into theirs" That is not selfishness, that is maintaining your own health and strength, without which you can't support anyone else.

KatyK Tue 16-Apr-19 09:43:00

I would do anything for my family, even if it 'puts me out'. I help iu friends if I can but friends have their own families so I don't see that as important really. I have always been a mouse but that's OK. Squeek.

olive2709 Tue 16-Apr-19 10:44:48

Went through this dilemma a few years ago.A friend who was a mental health counsellor give me this tip
Can you do/come to this
Can I get back to you ,walk away can't badger empty space
Later if possible approach from behind and over there shoulder so sorry can't do /come again walk away.
She impressed the walk away.

Nannyme Tue 16-Apr-19 10:55:08

I have just recently walked away from something I have been doing reluctantly for a couple of years because I was being maade to feel guilty if I didn’t join in. I feel as if a load has been lifted off my shoulders, I’m free - now what shall I do with all this free time. It’s very liberating to say no and mean it.

Barmeyoldbat Tue 16-Apr-19 11:00:19

I canned do say the word no but I consider myself kind and compassionate. I stood firm on the babysitting for my son with 5 children and a least an hour to get there but had the gc stay weekends in small batches (3 at the most) I have said no many times to so called social events where I would be the driver. Didn't want to go and certainly not be the driver. On the other hand I took the elderly man next door, who was a terrible neighbour, to visit his wife daily in hospital and cooked him meals. You can be kind, say no and not be a door mat. what is wrong with being kind to yourself?

dragonfly46 Tue 16-Apr-19 11:10:10

I am like Kitty and will always say yes if I can. As she says what goes around comes around.

I had a friend once, however, who I used to babysit for, do shopping for, ferried her children around and one day I asked her for a favour and she refused. That was when I decided never to be at her beck and call again. She was shocked that I backed off and could not see the reason for it.

For my DC, DH and Mum I will move heaven and earth to help where I can. I am a carer and get satisfaction from helping out where I can.

Urmstongran Tue 16-Apr-19 11:12:00

I suppose I can recognise my gut feeling. That’s when inside I don’t want to do what’s being asked of me. I am, as are most of us, kind and helpful.

It’s being able to say ‘no’ without good reason - just not wanting to - that I find difficult sometimes. And then if I go along with whatever it is I realise I should have said ‘no’ as I’m not looking forward to it.

‘Please others and you displease yourself’ comes to mind!

Saggi Tue 16-Apr-19 12:04:19

I always say ...sorry I cant oblige this time...usually to my daughter who has two children and a full time job she has to juggle. She totally accepts and understands, and never asks for an explanation.Its called mutual respect.

Barmeyoldbat Tue 16-Apr-19 12:25:56

dragonfly46, I am a carer but can still say no. I will always support but that does not mean actually doing the job. If you see what I mean.

Kerenhappuch Tue 16-Apr-19 12:34:14

I recently said 'No' to a friend when she wanted me to fill in a very personal questionnaire she gave me while we were out for coffee.

She looked totally taken aback, and said 'But why not?' And the truth bubbled up to my lips - 'I don't want to!'

That should be enough, really. I understand we sometimes have to do things for the sake of kindness, or out of duty, but this wasn't one of those occasions.

She still wasn't happy when we parted, and was still asking me why I didn't want to do it, but I really felt I didn't owe her any more explanation than that I didn't want to.

EthelJ Tue 16-Apr-19 12:36:57

Following this post with interest because I am very much a people pleaser and find saying no very difficult. If I do I always feel I have to justify myself. I have a close friend who is able to just say 'thank you for the invitation/offer but no thank you I can't make it/don't want to come /do that etc' No other explanation just leaves it there. For some reason I find that impossible to do.

allsortsofbags Tue 16-Apr-19 12:42:12

I think that "Saying No" is a tough one.

It's finding that balance between do what is right/best in a situation when we don't want to do ??? and saying "No" when we are excising our "Rights" to use our time, energy and skills for taking care of ourselves, doing what's right for ourselves.

In addition to "A Women in Your Own Right" "When I Say NO I Feel Guilty" by Manuel J Smith is a good place to start.

I took both these books to the charity shop last week as I no longer teach Assertiveness, I hope someone benefits from them.

Undoing years of social convention, family norms and or own view of ourselves is no easy task.

Saying 'No' is a skill that was not often taught to (mainly) women of our generation so we find it harder to learn but we can work at it.

It's not easy to set "Boundaries" and to maintain them, saying 'No' is all part of setting boundaries and taking care of ourselves.

Realising we have the "Right" to take care of ourselves is a Big mind shift for some people and it takes time as well as practice.

So often the message we were given was that we "Should" take care of others. A better/healthier message is to find the balance of taking care or ourselves and of others too and how to juggle those Wants and Needs.

I do think most of us have a good radar for when our kindness is being misused, it's a problem at that point if saying No is still difficult. Giving and caring, showing kindness can bring many rewards to us but being taken for a mug does no-one any good.

It is OK to stand up for ourselves and say "NO" and for us to be the one to choose when we use our "No".

For those struggling with saying 'No" think of it as learning a new skill. At some point we had to learn to write, to drive, to cook etc and we needed to read, watch, practice until that ??? skill was easy for us. Assertiveness/saying No is no :-) different.

Go online, read the "Bill of Human Rights" look up articles, borrow/buy books then find someone you feel safe with and practice, practice, practice.

If anyone feels like a doormat and is beating themselves up about it please don't do that to yourself. If you've never learned to fly a plane you wouldn't beat yourself up for not being able to fly a plane. It's the same thing.

I bless my Mum for teaching me early to say 'No' in small ways and going through my working life I've really had to grow the skill.

It is never too late to learn a new skill.

PS I can crash a simulator but I can't fly a plane :-) OH can fly a plane but can't sew a seam, he can manage a button but that's as far as his sewing skills go.