When to Say “No”? いつ『できません』と言う?


How often do you say “No” to the favours that others ask of you?  


I would love to say yes to people all the time and help or support as many as people possible.

How much can one person offer?  

I helped a person who suffered from a great deal of illness once in my life. I wonder if I felt pitiful that this ill person could not do much because of the immobility caused by the sickness. Helping the person at the beginning went well. As a helper I felt great and the helpee appreciated everything I did. The reciprocal relationship existed and both of us were happy. 

Sooner or later, the illness eased the wounded body and soul. The person began to feel better everyday. However, the expectation of me helping the person stayed the same. “Do me a favour? Can you come and help me to do laundry?” The first day, I agreed. While I was doing laundry, I noticed  laughter from the room next to the laundry room. I peaked my head in, and could not believe what I saw. The person was sitting on the couch watching TV laughing at a comedian on a talk show. 

What am I doing here? 

On my ride home on the bus, I opened my book and thought, “I was supposed to finish reading this chapter for my assignment, and yet I couldn’t concentrate on reading because I was busy helping someone else.” 

Where do I locate myself? 

“Where or even how do people draw a line? When do I begin to say “No” to this person?” I pondered while looking at the constant movement of city buildings from the bus window, which echoed my feelings. 

After a few weeks, I heard from the person, who got sicker again. This time, I suggested a helper service. The person seemed to appreciated my offer, but then later I found out that another friend of the person began to satisfy her needs. I wonder how my substitute felt when seeing the sick person laughing at the TV while doing whatever chores the person was not able to perform due to the illness; how long did it last? 

Was I a narrow minded person? 

What does ‘helping others’ really mean?  Making the person comfortable? Making a space or an environment to support people who truly need support without putting yourself aside? Where do I go?  

I remember, one day, my friend asking me to donate some cash to this person who became so ill that the person no longer able to make living. I donated $150. That day, I stopped at a grocery store feeling cheap. I began to hesitate to buy an item on which I had my eye on. Then I though of the donation I made. If I feel tight with money, why would I scarifice myself and donate money to just make me look good?  Later, I was on one of the social media app, and found my friend smiling. 

I smiled back at the photo.

After a few second, my smile disappeared. I noticed an item that I had been hoping to purchase. Why didn’t I buy it? I was not sure if the value of the good and the price matched.  Looking at the item in the person’s hand in the photo, I pondered. 

“So, the part of my money might have gone to obtain this item that I even wanted. This person got it with the donation money, and I had to walk away from it that day because I felt like I should not spend too much money…”

Oh well.

I am still happy that I helped others. At the same time, I still wonder how and when I draw the line.  

Aristotle shares some insights. When he talks about friendship and love, he implies that we don’t have to (or perhaps we cannot) be friends with everyone. At that same time, being friendly to others might be something that humans can choose to do. It’s a choice, but it’s still nice to do that.

This experience allowed me to think about what loving myself first might mean. I definitely feel great about helping others. Yet, before giving others, I thought that satisfying myself might create a larger space for storing extra love to share with others. How can I share love when I don’t have enough of it in myself?   

I noticed something important through this experience. 

In order to help others to meet their needs, I fulfill my heart first. I think that a person who feels the abundance in life knows how fulfill others’ life, too. How can I love others when I cannot love myself? When I love myself, I am sure that I begin to feel and share the love that already grew in myself. 

The courage to draw the line between myself and others work with the love that I give myself first. 

お久しぶりです。カリコリコ です。

今日は、いつ ”できません” とお断りの言葉を相手に伝えるか、というお話をしますね。