Courage is equivalent to the word “No”, I dare you to say it next time someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do without a momentary gridlock cluttering your brain as you look for excuses, polite words and all around alternatives to an impending commitment. As a matter of fact, when people ask me how do they get out of a situation they don’t want to be in, they often hear from me, “Just say no”. However, in the past, when it come to me, I buckled and squirmed, often blurting out an eager “Yes!” just so I can run away and take a moment to collect myself. The most difficult part came later as I looked for ways to get out of this situation hearing from my own protégées the same ill fated advice, “just say no”, thanks a lot.
Over the years, I have learned to substitute that eager yes with either of the following statements, ‘I’m busy”, “I’m sick” or “my lawn mower broke down” this last one has nothing to do with requests, but if I really don’t want to do it, any excuse will do and given the fact that I don’t have a lawn, it makes it pretty clear. It remind me of a time when a friend complained of all the commitments she was making and wanted to know how I got out of things like that. I gave her my three answers and over the next few weeks she got those answers from me in turn, until I brought up the lawn mower one at which point her eye glazed up a bit while her brain connected the dots and then gave me a reproachful look knowing what I have been doing the past few weeks.
I have also concluded since those early times that if the word “No” by itself is too daunting to wield, cynicism is the next best thing. I have yet to mustard the courage to say no, but excuses, I can spring out with ease, especially ridiculous ones that open the door for a comedic discussion which in turn gives me time to think of polite words and alternatives to decline whatever it is I don’t want to do.