Tag Archives: Fear

Your Fear of Upsetting Others by Saying No Might be Overblown and Here’s Why.

Your Fear of Upsetting Others by Saying No Might be Overblown and Here’s Why.

Are you like me? Do you tie yourself into so many knots over upsetting people that a group of Boy Scouts could not unravel you? Well, fear (k)not. I have had a realisation that may be able to help you.

Time to fess up. It was not a realisation as such. When those close to me and the universe have spent so much time slapping me in the face and saying ‘I am trying to tell you something’ it seems unfair of me to take the credit for realising something so bloody obvious.

So, let me rephrase. I was led slowly and patiently to realise that my thoughts on upsetting other people have been ever so slightly skewed. Not wanting to upset others is no bad thing. Not wanting to upset others to the point where it is a detriment to yourself might want some evaluation.

Let me clarify what I mean about upsetting others. I am not talking about you walking down the street and knocking an ice-cream out of a child’s hand for no good reason and for the sheer lark of it. That would be a douchebag move. I am referring to when you think you are going to upset someone for saying that you do not want to do something.

So why is this? I think there are various factors. One issues that I have (and maybe you do as well?) is with being selfish. I would rather feel bad than make others (or suppose that I have made others) feel bad. The question I ask is this – is it a negative to listen to what you want to do and do not want to do?

I would argue that it is not. Life is hard. There are a lot of things that can make it more difficult and simply being able to say you can’t face that thing someone wants you to do is a great first step in listening to yourself. It is about being honest. Do not make your life harder by doing more than you feel comfortable with.

Another thing to think about is that you may not actually upset a person by saying you don’t want to do something. Chances are, if someone you know is a decent and understanding person, they will not give you a hard time for saying no to something. Thinking you will annoy someone else before you even know that you will is giving yourself a hiding for nothing.

Also, if you know someone and they do you give you a hard time for not wanting to do something because you are having a hard time, then it is likely that they are not that helpful a person to have around anyway. That does sound harsh I know, but is it harsher than  you being swayed by someone who does not have your best interest at heart?

In the end, I think it is fine for you to be kind to yourself. Take it easy when you need to. Do not do more than you feel fine with doing. It is your life. It is completely ok for you to say no.

I am only giving thoughts on things I have noticed in my own life and I am by no means an expert. If you have ever felt like this or similar, then please let me know and share your thoughts too.




The Arrogance of Youth vs. The Uncertainties of Mid-Thirties.


I have been wondering about asking questions about myself and how my life is going and when questioning myself becomes a form of general anxiety and fear. As an example, asking myself (gently) ‘What is happening in my life and where is it going?’ is different to thinking ‘My dreams aren’t coming true and my life isn’t going how I want it.’ It is the quick descent from one to the other that interests me. I do acknowledge that it might just be me that goes from pondering my existence to having angst about my existence, however, I have come to learn that a lot of people have worried about issues that I presumed were my sole domain.

I believe in its best form, asking questions about our existence and experience in, and of, life is an important part of life. I would not go as far as to say the unexamined life is not worth living as it seems a trifle harsh and uncompromising (would someone who is unable to question their existence through a learning disability for instance, be said to have a life not worth living?) but I do think it is of value to us as humans to look at what we were, what we are and what we aspire to become.

The slight problem with this, for me at least, is when the questioning becomes a torrent of self-doubt, recriminations and ultimately a sense of failure before I have even fully lived the life I have presumed I will fail at. This is not the case all the time, and I have become much better at controlling these wayward thoughts that desire me to feel much worse about myself than I should, yet, it is without doubt that I can slide into a fear spiral about my existence and what I am doing.

To give another example, I have been considering my approach to writing and how it differs to how I wrote when I was in my early twenties. If this version of me were a biblical figure, it would definitely be old testament style; fire, brimstone and severe judgements. I don’t recall thinking about what I wanted to say as the younger version of me had the arrogance of youth on its side. I didn’t need to think about what I was writing as it was obvious that something needed to be said about the topic I was writing or I wouldn’t have bothered to write it in the first place. Or so my younger self thought.

Ah, I miss that certainty. I don’t miss the arrogance that came with it, or the simplistic view of issues that I had, as we know that nothing is simple, merely a set of increasingly complex contradictions. There is a lot to be said for not overthinking however. There was no procrastination or doubt, there was simply writing flat out until my hand hurt. Yes, it was long enough ago that pen and paper were still the preferred method for my writing.

With the wisdom (???) of age comes a more considered approach to writing. I do wonder if I should be writing about some subjects as I may not know enough about it, or whether the subject is interesting, or what would make a good story etc etc etc. With that comes a longer period of not writing. Or a longer period of worrying over what I should write. This then leads to me wonder about how as I have gotten older, I have become less certain of things, which I thought would be the other way around.

It seems to come back to the question of questioning. What is the right amount of questions to ask? Writing without questioning can lead to misinformed and inflammatory results, which I am sure some people simply adore to do, but it is not really my cup of tea. Writing with too many questions can prevent the writing from starting at all, which rather defeats the whole idea.

So, perhaps the answer is to use the writing as a way of questioning, or to explore ideas that I do not know the full answers to as I want to find the answers. It has just this second occurred to me that maybe the reasons I write now have changed. As opposed to wanting to fix the world as a younger man and the certainty that I did indeed know how to do that, perhaps I write now to try and make sense of a world that appears to be increasingly more complex the more I think about it.

Writing with no doubts or questions seems dangerous to/for me. Writing with too many questions is plain stifling. I am thinking there is something in the middle where consideration is given, but not to the point of killing the writing to begin with. In the same way, asking questions about my existence is useful if I don’t allow it to get out of control and drown me in doubt and fear. As with many things, finding the right balance is the tricky part.

What next?

What next?

What next? This is the question I am asking myself at the moment. As I feel this is going to be a post that that is therapeutic for me rather than something I think people will be desperate to read (but hoping a few people do anyway) I figure I might as well be honest.

I thought I would have an agent for my book by now. Call it what you will; overly optimistic, using a positive mental attitude, misguided, arrogant or plain stupid, it all boils down to this feeling of ‘Dammit. Why don’t I have an agent yet?’ Now, I know it takes time and even the best writers get rejected etc etc etc but it feels like when you are single and people say ‘Don’t worry. You will find someone. The right person for you is out there.’ Now this is great advice, but it doesn’t stop the loneliness of being single and the thoughts of ‘Screw that. I want someone now!’

Yet I also know it is out of my hands now. I have made the book as good as I can and the rest lies in the whims of capricious fate/agents. It is much like chucking your baby out into the world alone and saying ‘Good luck buddy.’ You hope it will be fine, but once you have let go, it is out of your hands.

Now I face an almost daily challenge between trying to remain positive and influence the universe with my willpower (much like a modern day Sauron but of a more benevolent nature) and thinking ‘Well, this isn’t working, so I need to try something else or something different.

What is that pull to do something else when your current project doesn’t seem to working? Actually, scratch that, what is that push to do something different? A pull feels like an attraction. A push feels like fear. I feel more pushed than pulled at present.

I think fear is a good word. Terrified is better. What if I can’t make one of my dreams in life come true through my own inability to do so? Wow, I have hit a new level of power in being able to bum myself out. Self-doubt is a real bugger. Self-doubt influenced by others is worse.

So, what to do next? My brain, helpful as ever is currently playing the lyrics to ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ in my head.

(The cursor is blinking at me waiting for a conclusion).

Well tough luck Mr Cursor. If don’t get a conclusion then you certainly don’t.

(Blink, blink, blink.)

It is hard to trust the universe when it has been unkind to you. It is hard to trust karma when you try to do good things and it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated. It is hard to have faith in the future when you know the future is a place of surprising twists (both good and bad) that you can never see coming.

All that we have left is ourselves. Our belief, our courage, our hope and our strength to carry on when it all seems impossible. Aside from giving up, what else is there?

And that Mr Cursor is all the conclusion you are going to get.

Take care buddies,