Veronica shows you how to say “NO” the right way & how to deal with toxic family members. Veronica is my evil twin/alter ego and instead of her usual Friday Tarot reading, she is taking a break over the holidays to help you solve some of your biggest problems….agony aunt style! She has taken the best questions from the comment thread of last weeks post and will now attempt to dish out some sassy advice. Enjoy!
Question: “So, I’m wondering your lovely insight on this: I have no problem saying “no”, but when I use this exalted, magical word, people have been ignoring me and doing what they want anyway, or they try to pressure me into doing what they want me to do. “No” has become the light, summer breeze gently wafting through their ears! How do I get people to respect my “H-E-L-L-N-O-!” and get them off my back?”
Veronica: My dear Chani, it sounds like other people simply don’t believe you when you say “no”. How horrid! You only need to say “no” once. After that, how people respond is their problem. Don’t feel like you have to keep saying it. No response at all is still a response. So don’t huff and puff yourself out of breath saying “no” repeatedly and defending yourself.
But here is the real issue: do you believe yourself when you say no? If you feel like you might be swayed to cave in, then your fortress is shaky and that creates stress.
When saying “no” is not enough: If you feel you aren’t being heard then it helps to give a detailed and offensive reason for why your saying no. Make it shocking, upsetting and freaky – this guarantees that you won’t get harassed any further.
I remember a time many years ago when a co-worker asked me to run some bullshit 24 hour marathon to raise money for cancer research. Since I don’t like cancer, marathons or missing out on my beauty sleep, I said “NO!”
But then she was all like “but it’s for cancer research….don’t you want to save lives?” Then I knew I had to bring out the big guns. I launched into this whole explanation about how I think cancer fundraising is pointless due to an Illuminati conspiracy to repress cancer cures so that big pharma companies can keep raking in money from sick people. She was so weirded out by this she never brought it up again.
Good luck Chani – remember, you don’t need to give a reason for your “no”, but you might if you want people to shut the fuck up and stop asking.
Question: Hey Veronica,
What advice would you give someone who has to deal with a toxic family member? Especially if you live with them. This person is quite bossy and complains about everything. I feel a lot of anger and it doesn’t even feel like it belongs to me. I’m looking forward to your insight.
Veronica: Russel, I am so glad you asked! A few years back, I worked with a guy I couldn’t stand. He embodied all the characteristics I despise in a person – hardworking, loyal, polite – you get the picture! I felt I would explode with rage when I sat in the same room as him and his smug little grin.
In order to stop myself from attacking him wild animal style during a staff meeting, I employed this handy dandy tactic, which worked wonders….
I thought of ONE thing I liked about him. It was really hard to do. He was just such a dick.
But despite being a dick, he did seem to have good intentions. Even if those good intentions lead to irritating the fuck out of me.
Then I thought of ONE MORE thing I liked about him. And well, it was tough. But then I realized that despite all his fatal flaws, he wasn’t a complete sociopath – there did seem to be some humanity left in him. And that was nice.
I would do this little practice each day before work. Within one week everything changed. He stopped saying jerky things. I stopped getting annoyed. He no longer bothered me quite as much. We never became friends or anything – he still pissed me off, but he didn’t get under my skin anymore.
So try this on your toxic, jerk face family member: think of one or two things you really like about them. Focus on those things as you start the day. You can even take it one step further and let them know what you like about them – this softens people and puts them in a good mood. I never did this, but you can if you want.
Good luck, Russel – this is easier than you think!