One of the biggest myths of autism is that we lack empathy. It is quite simply untrue. In fact, I would dare to say that most of us are over-empathizers. We tend to absorb the mood and energy of the people around us. This is intensified ten-fold with people we care about. When you put the over empathizing together with our social blindness, you end up with a grade A people pleaser who doesn’t know how to say no. Warning spectrumites, this combination is lethal!
I know, saying no is hard. Moreover, knowing when to say no is near impossible. It’s also difficult not to feel guilty for saying no. And worrying about hurting someone else’s feelings is horrible. Then there is the concern about what they might say or think of you for saying no. But I can tell you what’s worse than saying no, saying yes when you want to say no. This is the set-up for failure.
Now you may be wondering how saying yes can be so dangerous. But think about it. How many times have you said yes because you felt compelled to answer immediately. And right after the yes leaves your lips, you regret it. Maybe you forgot a previous engagement. Perhaps you needed a little more processing time. Did that person just ask you to go to the beach and you hate the sun? Then why did you say yes? Were you afraid you might miss a chance? Think they might get mad if you said no? I am willing to bet one, or all, of these thoughts have influenced your yeses and I’m here to tell you no can be a positive.
Absurd you say. No is clearly a negative. But not this time around. We can too easily fall victim to our yeses. Filling up our days and weeks with unwanted activities and chores can quickly lead to social burnout. Yes can burn you out, stress you out, and wear you out before you have even gotten to the activity. I say, learn to use your no. Let no empower you to choose how to spend your time. When we say yes to doing something we would rather say no to, we have not done either party a service. In fact, multiple yes offenses can even backfire, stress relationships, cause anxiety, and often lead to misunderstandings. Unmeant yeses result in more unmeant yeses.
That’s all fine and well you say but how do I say no or take the time I need to process without seeming rude or feeling guilty? Excellent question! There are many instances when a no is appropriate. Sometimes you must say no due to finances, or health, or maybe even your mental health. Regardless of the reason for your no, you have a right to take the time for processing and to decide how to respond. Saying no to a request can strengthen your relationships. It shows you value your time and who you chose to spend it with. It means when you do say yes, you mean it and you are all in. It means you genuinely heard the ask and took the time to give it attention. In fact, a well worded no, can be much more significant than an unmeant yes. So encourage you to try out your no this month and avoid the danger of yes.
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