“No” is a Complete Sentence


Lately three different people have complained to me about being “taken for granted”…not by me, by someone else. They were different scenarios but in my opinion their problems stemmed from the same thing… they did not say “no.” I used to have the same problem. I was a people pleaser and even if I didn’t want to do something, I did it anyway because I either didn’t want to make them mad or  well… that’s it… I didn’t want them to be mad at me.

I don’t know if it’s the fact I am older and therefor tired of getting “kicked in the ass” by so-called friends or family, that finally gave me the courage to say no, or I more aware of time and how little we all have, and how its better to spend it doing things we really want to do. I mean just saying “yes” to accommodate another person isn’t being genuine. I am talking about lending money (or really giving… you know you won’t be paid back) or going out of your way for someone who #1 made some bad financial choices or #2 cannot manage their own time.

I listened to my friends who complained about the same stuff I once did and tried to give them the same advice that “woke me up” to my own behavior, or at least to my part in the drama…. “I allowed that person to do that to me.” Those are pretty powerful words. If you think about, we all play a part in what happens in our lives… at least most of the time. Of course there are times we get into jams through no fault of our own…like getting smacked in the head by a falling meteor, but most of the time we are guilty of not standing up for ourselves…for whatever reason.

Saying no is difficult, especially when the person who does the asking seems to really need help or is in a position to make your life miserable. How many times have I worked through my lunch break to get something out to meet a deadline, only to suffer for it later…like having a hypoglycemic episode? And did I even get a “thank you” from the boss, who by the way, made sure she ate her lunch…of course not!

Saying no takes courage and the willingness to not care what others think about you. I think having rectal cancer and showing my rear-end to an army of interns at UCI made me not care too much what people thought about me anymore.

Then there are times when we do say no, but only after giving a thorough explanation of why… when as Oprah once said, “No is a complete sentence.” We really should not feel obligated to do something we really do not want to do… and I don’t like the word “should” either ,but I will make an exception in this case. We fill our heads with too many shoulds, when I think it’s better to rephrase and say “could”…it sounds more positive.

We shall see if my words of advice will be taken. I do try to be supportive but I also want to be honest with them and hopefully they will feel empowered to stand up for themselves. I read recently in one of the Buddhist books, that to live a genuine life sometimes requires being honest with someone, even if they might not like it. Hopefully, they will at least know that I won’t just blow smoke up their ass, but instead offer my real opinions.

Do you find yourself having trouble saying no?

Peace, Happiness and Health!





Petty Bullshit


I have been asked on occasion if having cancer changed me and I can say that the answer is a definite YES! The first thing I tell them is that I changed my diet to vegan. The second is — I stopped worrying about petty bullshit…you know the stuff like “he did this or she did that…” It’s the water cooler gossip that we have all either joined in on or tried to ignore. The most important thing I do not miss from the “working world” — is the petty bullshit. If people just minded their own business…

I think there is something about the human psyche that is drawn to drama. I have been guilty of it myself but these days I can’t stand to hear it. I recently read an article about empathy and how it is better to just listen to someone’s problems without judgment or advice…but where do we or rather I draw the line? I am a problem solver. I read that women are better listeners than men (men tend to want to “fix” things and move on)…women want to talk about their problems and not fix anything. Maybe I have higher testosterone levels than the average woman because (especially post cancer) I can’t stand to hear … what I call endless complaining.

Granted there are times in our lives that complaining is warranted, but it appears to me that most of the time the one complaining is really gossiping about another person’s behavior. I believe we are all responsible for our own actions. I cannot control someone else’s behavior BUT I can control how I do or do not respond to it. At the moment, my response is to avoid.

There is someone in particular I am having a tough time with now. To be honest she has had a “prickly” personality since I have known her. But she seems to have gotten worse or maybe I just have a lower tolerance for bullshit. To be honest she has had a legitimate reason for some complaining … 9 months ago her partner died and then she lost her house…but at the same time she has become quite “nasty”… The word “pleasant” would never be used to describe her… if you get my drift. Her legitimate complaints have turned into water cooler gossip about people I have never met. And anyone who tries to help her…like selling her house, is met with angry resistance.

My dilemma now is to figure out a way to address my feelings to her. I understand about empathy quite well, but at the same time, it is imperative for me to keep my stress levels at bay. We all know that stress lowers the immune system and I need to keep mine as strong as humanly possible.  She wants me to visit this week and I do not want to go…the times we do see each other or via phone conversations she complains the entire time… or if I do get a word in…she interrupts me. I find myself thoroughly pissed off and that is not a healthy relationship.

Someone pointed out to me that my activism is probably causing me stress as well, but I don’t see it that way… activism is problem solving, even if it’s only making others aware of a situation. Complaining about the behavior of others, especially when it has no direct effect on the person complaining is, in my opinion…petty bullshit…and I no longer have time for that. What I would like to figure out is how to express that to my friend (and I say that term loosely) before I get angry with her… oh wait… I am angry with her, but I do believe in giving people chances instead of just throwing her away. She was one of the people who stopped by to help out when I was getting treatment, so I know she isn’t a total “bitch” but these days I have to look very hard.

Empathy is good and all but I am looking for positive advice or solutions, otherwise I am just complaining and I hate that.