Sunday, September 24, 2017

How to say no

The title could be an open question to anyone out there or would surmise some insight into a lifetime of experiences which have been mostly regrets and failures. As with any of my writeups , these words have been simmering in my mind for a long time. The word 'no' for me , I would have to say, has been burned into my memory thanks to my father. The innumerable times he has used the word in those one-word responses to my requests for toys, snacks, junk food, or for that one more hour of watching TV, had me believe that he was capable of only speaking that word. In fact the blue moon event of him saying yes left me confused and looking for where the catch was, to him agreeing to my 'humble' requests. For sure there were some house chores or some impossible requirement or scoring a particular grade down the road.

I was so used to him saying no that I began to use it as a buffer, for my childishness and curiosity. Maybe my dad thought that as long as he was there to say no to things that I was about to do, I would be protected from failures of some kind.

I probably began to use the technique against my mother later,where I began to say no to what she would ask me to do. Very diplomatically of course. But here the reasons weren't as honorable as my father's because my negative responses to my mother were more out of laziness rather than some justifiable reasons. Mother's warnings always fell on deaf ears, mainly because in the small country that I grew up in, her warnings of overeating and cultural requirements and etiquette would hardly be relevant and would quickly be forgotten.

Time passed and I reached college, freed from the cocoon and supervision of parents, and suddenly there was no one to say no anymore. Being the brat that I am, I still continued my childishness and curiosity with a very naive and impractical view of the world. There I began to learn in earnest the consequences of not having the word no in my life. Low grades, supplementary papers , lack of accountability, and a few accidents in between, made me a quick skeptic. And it didn't help that I was always a step behind my peers due to my academic situation. All things done, once my education ended, my father called me back to start my career. And me neither having the finances to back a career or grade to pick up a job in the market, meekly accepted and returned home.

But this time, I didn't meet the dad I remembered. My mother hadn't changed a bit. But my dad was not the wall I had to climb each time I wanted something done. This time he didn't really stand in my way. Maybe he was too old or just tired after nurturing and schooling two more boys just as rowdy as the first one. This time the lack of the word no really alienated me. I felt alone at home. I looked out to friends and began spending far more time with them than at home. My mother would patiently wait at home with food and I would return late after having junk food and not having an appetite. I would eat the food sometimes, not because of guilt, but to avoid the conversation in the morning about what where and who. I was drinking too. And my finances on a meager salary was barely enough to support the lifestyle, forget supporting two aging parents and brothers who were pursuing their graduation. But I didn't care. Then I began to say no to my father. His requests not only logical but gathered from years of insight only varied experiences could bring, were flatly denied, simply for the sake of saying no. Maybe I was exacting some kind of revenge for all the times I heard the word. Or I was just too lazy to see the wisdom and in hindsight if I had done some of those things, I would have been far better off today.

My tangent was far different then. I began searching for what was missing. Not realizing that the word was right there. it only had to come from within me.

The truth is I still don't know how to say no. Maybe when I deny someone or something, it brings out old wounds which I cannot bear.and just agree to any request. If someone asked me for something I would move hell and highwater to get it done. But if my parents asked me to do something for myself, I would refuse. My parents rarely asked anything for themselves . And it would be done immediately.but ask me to invest , build my savings or work on my health, I would defer , distract or if pestered enough, flat-out refuse.
Maybe denying my father gave me some sort of perverted thrill.
Through other experiences in life I began to seek the knowledge of the word no. How and when to say it. I started with denying myself certain food types. That worked for the types which I didn't really have much interest in. But for junk food , I would try and fail constantly. Somehow saying yes to junk food equated to saying no to my parents , which made the failures bearable

Then it shifted to other entertainment options like cinema, movies, TV, TV series, so on and so forth. But the more I explored , I would still end up with an empty experiment on what denying myself really meant. The problem was that a lot of things went out of focus. In feeling alienated,I began to return the favor so to speak. My family kept complaining of me not being there, and as always, all feedback fell on deaf ears. I would just do what i wanted to do when i wanted to do it. I still dont know why I wasn't thrown out of home earlier. Maybe at the time, I should have thrown myself out.

By now I was neck deep in work . Day job, part time jobs, friends. There was zero time for family. I would meet my father mostly on the weekend during breakfast, even though we stayed in the same house. We would discuss politics, scientific discoveries. Nothing about home , or our health.

I built a warped sense of reality, and validated myself within a set of parameters of my own choosing. The problem has always been the same. Choice. Every single parameter was my choice. Be it time, food, relationships but to shy away from accountability I would place the onus on the receiver of my attentions, and make any decision a group decision.

Was it my fear of failure, or being called up to explain my actions or decisions? There was no clarity, just go from day to day , trying to be useful to everyone else.

One by one , my brothers completed their graduation. I got busy trying to run an IT business, all the while , slowly slipping away from a general awareness of the goings-on at home. My lifestyle expenses kept going up. More friends, more outings, some leisure trips, money was never really a problem. because i was spending my supposed life's savings. My brothers started working. For a while , it was good. Then business turned sour. Lost contracts, kept working, hoping for miracles. Didnt take salary for a year. Depression took over. All the while, all I had to do was say no to what was happening to me, and I would have left and it would all be over. But I was stubborn to the point of ruin. Kept hanging on, working for scraps.

This is beginning to look like a life story but I have a plan here. Im only trying to enumerate the possibilities if the word no is ignored and unused.

The ability to say no, stems from a deep-seated notion of choice. Choice at best is creative, and if your choices are unlimited, then so is your ability to reject. If you're OK with anything, then you have given up choice. You have given up selection. And you have given up control. It is that most basic feeling of fear which rules such decision making.When choices are available without fear of repercussions of any kind, what a world that would be. A world without consequence. A fantasy at best. Because in reality, somewhere along the way, there would be a resistance to the choices that were made, and accounts must be settled.

So to bring things into better perspective, enumerate possibilities, reject compliance (say no ), and choose.

Choice defines oneself. And it begins with saying no.
Say no to the lies you tell yourself. Say no to the excuses you make to procrastinate from your responsibilities.

Even though I didnt realize it then, my parents had already mentally moved away from me by this time.They were just physically present and were there because they knew I depended on them, and not the other way around. My fantasy world refused to let me from taking stock of my life and kept me in a dream state, to be lived day after day after month after year. from this point, I think my parents no longer expected or looked for emotional support from me, because I had none to give or just didnt know how. Probably they had my brothers for that, if they weren't in the same boat as me.

If you really want to know how much you value something , reject it, move away from it,. Until then, any supposed value is a made up reality,because its mostly in your head. Its value is calculable only if you separate yourself from it, because otherwise you have to balance yourself on the same scale, and the value gets skewed.

We all have the power to be unique. But it is our desire to follow that negotiates with that uniqueness. The power of this desire suppresses our need to reject, and in time kills the need completely.

So to sum up the essence of saying no boils down to our implementation of the choices we make.

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How to say no

The title could be an open question to anyone out there or would surmise some insight into a lifetime of experiences which have been mostl...