"Can you watch the kids for me this Saturday night?"
You really don't want to. You like this person alot and you think it is a reasonable request. It doesn't matter what your reasons are; they are legitimate and you just don't want to say "yes" today. But, if you say "no," you will feel guilty. And, on the other hand, if you say "yes," you will feel resentment. You can't win. Guilt or resentment are your only options. I remember a client who once lamented, "Geez, I have to pick between those two every day!" So, what do you do?
Pick guilt. Seriously. I know it would be better if you could make a choice and not feel either of these. But you are not quite that evolved yet (keep reading this Blog; you will get there!), and you are realistically going to have to choose between these two unpleasant and frustrating feelings. Pick the answer that leaves you feeling guilty rather than resentful. In this case, say "no." Then swallow hard and resist the temptation to fill the awkward space with all kinds of real or contrived excuses that will legitimize you and your "no" answer.
Why? Because it is easier after the fact to deal with your guilt and let go of it than it is to deal with your resentment and let go of it. Guilt is a burden. But resentment is a bigger burden. You can deal with both of them and eventually let go of them (stay tuned; we will be covering how to do that in later posts). It is just that resentment is more insidious and difficult to untangle. A good talk with a good friend can reassure you and often help you let go of your guilt. A good talk with a good friend does not do much to help you release the resentment you have been carrying around.
So, go call a friend and ask him to remind you that you have a right to say "no" and that you are still a good and kind person. You have a right to take care of your needs, and that means that you will sometimes have to say "no" to others, even though it is hard to do.
Oh, and by the way, can you watch the kids for me this Saturday night?
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