How can I stop being misused?



My colleagues take advantage of the fact that I cannot say no and keep tossing me from one job to another. I end up doing too much yet there are people paid more than I and work less. Please help. How can I stop being misused?

The first thing you must know is that NO is a complete sentence. It does not require any explanation. Asked for example, if one can come to your flat for drinks later that day, it is perfectly acceptable to simply say no, without feeling the need to explain that you have other guests that evening or even that you had planned to study that evening for an examination the following day.

Many people are socialised to find it difficult to say no, even if saying yes is most inconvenient. Good boys and girls say yes rather than no when asked to do something rather than risk upsetting the other person. This is how many were brought up. You sound like a victim of such an upbringing, and you must learn how to say no as part of your strategy of staying mentally healthy and balanced.

In psychology, the concept of your personal rights comes up often and is a good starting point in the explanation of why you must relearn and realign your relationships at work and in life in general for your own good. Let me explain by describing some common personal rights that might be trampled on by your colleagues at work, either deliberately, or because you are too meek to put your foot down.

You have the right to experience and express your feelings. If, as seems the case, your colleagues ask you to work a weekend for them at a time you had planned time with yourself, it is perfectly in order to say no, without fearing that you will be taken as a bad person.

Wanting to spend time with yourself over a weekend is a perfectly good reason to say no to such a request. Some people feel it to be an act of selfishness to say no in these circumstances. Remember that good mental health practice demands that you first look after yourself before you can help others.

Whereas the Holy Bible is clear that “the meek will inherit the earth’, (Mathew 5:5), that is no reason to deny yourself the right to speak your mind. You have been given a voice at your place of work and it is perfectly within your rights to express yourself. It seems that your colleagues are taking advantage of you. It is your responsibility to point out to them and to management that this is how you feel about the work environment.

It might surprise you to learn that they all think that you enjoy doing all the work because you seem to do it with such a big (or is it meek) smile!

You have the right to be happy!

Some people lead a life in which they feel guilty every time they feel happy.

To some people being happy is almost a sinful act because again the Bible tells us that from the “sweat of our brow we shall eat”. (Genesis 3:19). Good mental health demands that you accept the state of being happy without feeling guilty, simply because so many other people are so unhappy.

You are not responsible for the happiness of others. It sometimes takes training by a mental health expert to accept this very simple reality of life.

Additionally, you have the right to relax. In this very busy world where being busy becomes the definition of success, taking time to be with the spouse, children, or even with oneself is taken as wasting valuable time when one could be doing ‘useful’ things like working.

This is another misconception that is very common and again might be driving your guilt into accepting to do things at work rather than resting.

Other rights that are sometimes trampled upon by society include the rights to be different, to change your mind and the right to be wrong! People who have a tendency to perfectionism for example ruminate for days and months after they make even a minor mistake.

As the wise saying invokes, “to err is human” and every human being is capable of making a mistake once in a while and the world does not come to an end because a mistake has occurred.

There are many other personal rights that one comes across including the right to feel good about yourself without the need to feel guilty about it.

As you can see, your life might be made easier at the workplace if you learn to place your personal rights where they belong, and by treating them as part of your strategy of ensuring your own mental health agenda. If you are unable to follow this advice on your own, a visit to a psychologist might be helpful.

Send your mental health concerns to [email protected]

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