Refuse, refuse, refuse (so you can get what you want)

I recently came across this quote:

“Remember that in giving any reason at all for refusing, you lay some foundation for a future request.”

It is from Arthur Helps’ 1890 book “Essays Written in the Intervals of Business,” a sort of self help book of its time.

This statement really spoke to me. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that saying “no” is key to getting what you want and need.

It took some time to realize this, though. When I was young, I wanted to please everyone. I would join a club because friends were doing so, go out with someone because he liked me, or accept every babysitting job because it felt like the right thing to do.

Maybe a lot of young people are this way.

As the years went by, I realized I was doing things for others and not for me. And the thing is, I don’t know that saying “yes” all the time actually benefited others.

I mean, on the surface it may have. But I think eventually this behavior hurt people. When I realized I was in a relationship or job that actually wasn’t right for me, I ended things abruptly.

While it’s good I was honest about how I felt, I wasted some people’s time in the process. They would have wanted someone around who was committed to the relationship or project at hand.

Anyway, I guess what’s important is we try to be honest with ourselves as much as possible and act appropriately. We must be in touch with our desires.

Then we must say “no” to requests and opportunities that don’t coincide with these desires. Sometimes it’s hard to let these opportunities pass us by.

I recently had the opportunity to write for a well respected news organization, but turned it down. I had decided that journalism wasn’t for me for a variety of reasons. I had to grit my teeth while walking away from the offer, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns.

If I hadn’t refused, I probably wouldn’t have taken on the two technical writing internships I’m currently involved with. Those will likely get me closer to my goal of being a technical writer than more journalism experience would have.

It’s also a good idea to give up relationships in your life that aren’t beneficial, even if it’s just temporary. I had a friend who was at a really low point in her life. I tried to support her through the tough time (Isn’t that what friends are for?), but she ended up taking out her grief and frustration on me. It wasn’t healthy. So I stepped away from the relationship for a while.

Not she’s doing better and we’re slowly reconnecting. I’m glad we took a little break because it allowed me to cultivate other healthier relationships.

I guess we only have so much love and time to go around, so we must be wise in deciding what’s right for us. When others know what we want, too, they’ll be more likely to help us achieve it.

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2 Comments on “Refuse, refuse, refuse (so you can get what you want)”


  1. […] My good friend Christine wrote a blog entry this morning that really hit home for me. It’s about the power of saying No, in order to get what you need. I think everyone should read it (it’s not long): https://christinelaubenstein.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/refuse-refuse-refuse-so-you-can-get-what-you-wa… […]

  2. christinelaubenstein Says:

    Thanks for the link, Ina! Glad you liked the post:-).


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