I watched a film a while back and it was called the Yes man! Now it made lots of sense cos fear makes us say No to opportunites for expansion in life, deciding to remain mediocre despite our big dreams just because it’s safe!
But being a Yes man is now quite a common fad in society as many slogans have been borne out of accepting challenges head on!
One of my favorites is Yes Boss! Instead of saying I can’t or I won’t just say Yes Boss and sort out the logistics later, you’ll be surprised how much you can achieve!
We all like Yes phrases but many of us have quite abused this principle and suffer from an ailment I’d like to call ‘A-No-phasia’! Using Anita’s contemporary Waffi dictionary, it simply means the inability to say no or literarily ‘absence of No in speech!’ If you have a problem with this word you have four options:
-Tear ya pant
-Jump inside river!
Didn’t think so!
Now back to the ailment I was talking about. Anophasia!
Anophasia is caught as early as in childhood. There’s an age where if you took something that belonged to a kid whether he needed it or not, he’d kick and scream till you gave it back and if it was biscuit and you don chop am, your own don finish o! Cos the child would scream all day resting only intermittently and wouldn’t even accept another biscuit! Now this phase gives way to the Yes phase, where the child is as giving as santa claus! We all passed through this phase, offering our biscuits to the beggar beggar children in our class, giving our one-nairas to those who were less fortunate and for some of us, it’s the closest we’ll ever get to being angels!
Most people abandoned this phase pretty fast. A couple of my Ijebu friends embraced their heritage and learnt to say no even before they could say mama. My ibo friends also realised that their chi had poured superglue in their palms so that ego never mistakenly flew out, we fondly called them aka-gum!
But as for me and the vast majority of kids growing up with anophasia, no was a word we only used in sunday school when the teacher would say: “Do you want to go to hell?” “Noooooo” we chorused!
But that was where the No ended. We were unable to say no when someone begged us for our last biscuit. We were unable to say No when someone asked us to follow them to wiwi. Yeah if you were one of those kids always winning nicest or friendliest in class aka maga you should definitely read on.
I had this friend in secondary school who was so bad at saying No that at breaktime when we were given our snacks, she’d put a whole meat pie in her mouth at once just so that she wouldn’t have to share it.
I was always the nice kid. Something people never failed to take advantage of. I helped people copy their notes, lent girls my notes dreading the news that they’d misplaced it which somehow was always the case. Lent all sorts of people money, even those who barely said hi to me, wrote people’s names on the attendance sheet while they lounged in bed, followed people on all sorts of errands that had nothing to do with me all because they said please and I was unable to say No.
I thought it was a phase, a part of growing up and finding one’s self. I actually liked being the nice girl and I fought back mentally by always being self-sufficient. The truth was I despised these people. People who took advantage of my niceness, making me do stuff they’d never ever do for me if they were in the position to do so. Some of my friends weren’t left out, in fact I noticed that this behaviour seemed to draw a lot of bullies and insecure controllers all in the name of friendships.
Funny thing is I had no problem saying No to peer pressure. I considered myself an independently thinking, rational person who couldn’t be swayed by misguided youths with bad habits but I just couldn’t help being nice!
How I wanted to say no! Every time, just as a new circumstance presented itself, I’d say No very loudly in my mind but somehow my brain never got through to my possessed tongue and in dismay I’d hear yes or o.k coming out of my mouth! I groaned at all the extra work, sacrifices and things I had to do without all because I couldn’t say the ‘N’ word!
And one day I decided that I’d had enough! Saying No wasn’t that hard. I listened attentively to people saying No, saw how they stood their ground and remained unperturbed by the reaction of the person they had just denied and it looked easy as pie!
Not one to backdown from a challenge, I practised saying No countless times in front of the mirror, making sure my facial expressions didn’t look too soft or too hard and most importantly didn’t betray me and then I waited for my first No-opportunity!
The moment finally came, some girl in class asked if she could copy my home-work. Home-work I’d done so meticulously, even missing Voltron. My mind shouted ‘Hell-No!’ and waited with bated breaths as my mouth began to form an answer! ‘No’ I said weakly, it sounded like a squeak. I swallowed. ‘What did you say?’ She asked, looking as surprised as I was. ‘I said No!’ I’m sorry I can’t give…. ‘Forget it’ she said in a huff, quickly gathering her wits and giving me what she considered the perfect come-back for my open rejection!
I was stunned and elated. I did a little victory dance. Then I looked up and saw her sitting forlorn at her desk and I felt really bad. I hated being the bad guy. I felt wicked! I had deprived someone I could’ve helped. Didn’t the Lord say if someone takes your cloak give him your coat also? I walked up to her and said; “I could teach you how to do it!”. Her face brightened and I spent 45minutes which I could have devoted to my newest paperback romance novel, teaching her how to balance an equation!
Well my equation that day was balanced. I hadn’t become a No- meanie but at least I could no longer be referred to as a Yes-girl.
I was a N-Y girl! A no-yes girl or as I liked to see it, a new-york girl.
On my way home, I reviewed my small victory and saw the new problem that presented itself. I had not actually anticipated feeling bad after saying No. The distraught look on the victim’s face almost broke my heart. I knew I wasn’t superman or voltron but the sanguine in me loved to make people happy.
I pondered over this for a while and realised that I had to make myself happy or there wouldn’t be any happiness left in me to give and I was way too self-centred to ever be a martyr so I realised I had to take a stand. The pain that came with saying no would become blunt over time. Practise made perfect and I was gonna keep up the no thing till I was a mean faced no nonsense woman!
I’m glad to say that over the years I did perfect the art of saying No graciously but firmly though I must warn that you must maintain a strict balance lest you tip over to the other side and become one of those dreadful stingy people who never help anyone or give even a farthing! Being tougher makes you feel powerful somehow, like pinochio without his strings. You don’t feel like others are continually playing a tune for your aching feet to dance to.
I know a guy who almost gave himself a nervous breakdown cos he couldn’t say no! At the office he was doing his job, his bosses job cos his boss had so much faith in him and his subordinates job cos they were incompetent and he didn’t want any lapses that would reflect on him. On the homefront, he was supporting his siblings and then his relations sensing that he had money kept coming with their needs and he ended up broke every month, unable to save, over-worked and far from happy. All he got in return were ‘God bless yous’ and ‘Thank yous’
Oh I wish those 2 phrases could pay the bills and give you the happiness and acceptance you so desire but they can’t. You have to know your limits. The bible says God loves a cheerful giver. If giving of yourself, your time or your money is making you groan or cuss or swear inside then forget any rewards for such sacrifice in the after life. If you are not happy giving it then don’t! Of course there are some worthwhile exceptions, periods in life where a sacrifice is necessary. Sacrifice is defined as painful giving. God honors those but it shouldn’t be every moment of everyday. If they make you bitter instead of better then you are definitely doing something wrong!
I noticed that victims of anophasia find it harder to say no to friends and family and consequently they are the ones famous for taking advantage of you!
It’s easy to say No to a random stranger but chances are a random stranger will not ask you to go the extra mile anyway.
Please note that any friend or family that continually takes advantage of you in a way that makes you feel exploited does not have your best interest at heart. They feel they have a right to your continued slavery but if you know deep down that were you to swap places with them, they’d never do even a quarter of what they demand of you then you are in big trouble cos these same people end up not only taking you for granted but they go outside and paint you black cos no matter how hard you try, you cannot satisfy them.
So rather than fretting, living a life where you constantly beg God to keep them and their demands away from you, get treatment for this dreaded disease.
Here are five useful tips.
1. Practise saying No in front of the mirror with your face looking relaxed but firm. You don’t wanna seem hostile or look like you are about to cry or you’re agitated cos once the other person senses a crack, he’ll keep begging till you give in.
2. Your tone of voice should be mastered. Like I stated earlier, it is mandatory that you sound polite and pleasant but in a matter-of-fact, end-of-discussion way!
3. Do not avoid eye contact when saying no. It is a sign of weakness and gives the person the impression that he can still have his way.
4. Proffer an alternative solution immediately and if you have none, say in your best empathic voice that you are sorry you couldn’t be of help and find the nearest exit! It’s a day by day thing and you have to know when to run!
5. Do not say no too many times to the same person. Don’t be mean. Abusing your power just makes you as skanky as the next bad guy walking the streets.
Anophasia has ruined many lives and many homes. Marriages have been ruined because a spouse couldn’t say no to an irrational demand by his family. People have fallen ill, borrowed large sums of money to people that never paid back and ended friendships cos the person with anophasia felt such bitterness and victimization that he eventually exploded, opening up a can of worms and walking out on a friendship that was not only one-sided but was being sustained by his efforts alone not to mention his unlimited generosity.
If you have anophasia it’s not too late for a cure. You may feel saying no will make you look like a bad person and make people talk but in the long run, saying yes all the time is more destructive. Don’t be a people-pleaser, it shows a lack of strength of character. Anybody who hates you cos you said no is not worthy of your time.
Freedom of speech and freedom of choice are basic human rights! At least put up a fight before you allow someone trample all over your rights.
You have a right to be happy! If you are not cut out to be a martyr or father christmas, learn to say no before the bitterness and stress gives you cancer!
And if you do choose to be a martyr or father christmas, please remember to stay cheerful in and out! Smile please 😉
Hohohohohoho have a merry monday fellas!!! Xoxoxo