Establishing boundaries is an important aspect of developing a healthy sense of self and fostering positive relationships. Asserting your needs and clarifying the value of your time and energy can be achieved by saying no.
According to Xolelwa Katikati from Mfuleni, Cape Town, it is easy to decline a request, particularly if you believe that fulfilling it may lead to regret later on.
Katikati emphasises that there is no need to consider a specific time or place in which to say ‘no’. “It is perfectly acceptable to politely decline a request without feeling obligated to provide a detailed explanation.”
A brief explanation will do the trick
However, in order to maintain positive relationships and avoid potential conflicts, it may be helpful to provide a brief explanation or reason for your decision.
She suggests that not saying “no” to someone when you know you cannot fulfil their request can lead to conflict or resentment between people in general.
To prioritise your well-being, it’s important to confidently say “no” when necessary, regardless of your relationship with the person, shares Katikati.
Nosi Vuyelele from KwaLanga, Cape Town tells Health For Mzansi that if she believes that someone is in desperate need, particularly of money, she chooses not to give because it is possible that she may not receive her money back.
She further explains that she learned the hard way.
Saying “no” didn’t just happen overnight. There were instances when she required assistance from those she typically assists, but she did not receive assistance.
To avoid isiphithiphithi (chaos), she believes it is essential for a giver to safeguard their serenity. It feels absurd to say no. Vuyelele adds, however, that once you realise you shouldn’t have said yes, it’s time to prioritise your sanity.
The painful reward of saying no!
Sandile Radebe, a psychology lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, says saying “no” can be a difficult task, particularly when it involves family and close friends.
It is a complex and challenging art to master, he says. “You’re our only hope; you’ll have to work hard to provide for a soft life and put us on the map,” a small child would be told.
Those words evoke a sense of guilt within them. Children are taught to believe that they have a responsibility to their families to learn the basics and provide for the family.
This belief is instilled in them from a young age.
It is not rare to hear criticism directed at recent graduates who are trying to establish themselves by purchasing something of their own, such as a car or a house. Some people may argue that these people should prioritise fixing up their homes before making such purchases.
“Many black people often feel pressured to take out loans in order to satisfy their families and may struggle to refuse due to the sense of guilt instilled in them from a young age.”
Mental health conditions might arise!
Suicidal thoughts can arise when people struggle to say “no” and are overwhelmed.
Radebe explains that certain people resort to using drugs or alcohol to numb their pain. “Guilt-tripping a child is not appropriate. It is a child’s right to be raised and provided for by their parents.”
According to Radebe, people, including children and adults, are not obligated to do anyone any favours, particularly if these favours result in indebtedness or other challenging mental circumstances.
If someone is feeling unable to act, they can consider writing a letter to explain their situation to their family instead of facing them directly. There may be people who understand the situation, while others may not.
However, safeguarding your mental well-being is essential for a better future, Radebe asserts.
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