Do you find it difficult to say ‘no’? Feel guilty when you do? Maybe you find yourself bending over backward to please others despite the negative impact it has on your life. If so, I believe you will find my five commandments liberating. So here goes:

1. Thou shalt not volunteer for every task/project on sundry – This is regardless of the shortage of volunteers or the compelling nature of the cries for help. It matters not that you can do the task with your eyes closed or you are happy to give up even more of your sleep (yet again!). Feel free to walk away from it – or at least till you can think carefully through any decision you might make. PS: Just in case you feel like the world will stop spinning because you said ‘no’ – IT WON’T! (trust me). Other people have been lined up to do the task. The only problem is that you keep refusing to let go. And so others don’t get a chance.

2. Thou shalt learn to say ‘no’ more often AND resist the guilt-trips you feel when you do. To combat these guilt trips, say out loud to yourself “I choose to say ‘no’ on this occasion and this is the decision I have made. So get over it, Woman!” Under no circumstances are you to wind yourself up with so much guilt that you change your decision (regardless of the sob stories, manipulation, etc) – only do so if your heart (not head) tells you to do so!

3. Love thy neighbour as thyself! When we think of this, some of us have it ingrained in us to constantly give of our selves. This in itself is not bad but I believe there is a cut-off here. Moreover, this commandment also gives us the liberty to love ourselves equally as we love others. To me, that allows me to not only do nice things for others but myself too! Plus, I don’t have to feel bad about it either.

4. From hence forth, thy shalt put boundaries in place and no longer tolerate people who ill-treat you, does not value your existence or celebrate the woman you are. If proper care is not taken, these people may end up draining you physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially. And you are too precious for that. Put healthy boundaries in place to ensure that these people do not ‘hack’ away from the essence of your being. Have you noticed that when you don’t do this, you end up harbouring anger, bitterness, and resentment against the person because of what they are doing to you (or should I say the things you allow them to do?). When necessary, confront the person(s), give them the room to change and let them know what the consequences would be if there is no change. Never be afraid of letting go of them to create room for healthier relationships.

5. Thou shalt not make your decisions based on what you think others will consider being right, what others would be pleased with, etc. I implore you to start making your decisions from your heart not according to the gospel of all on sundry. You might do well by learning to block out those voices and not let them drive you to do things not right for you. Develop enough emotional strength to make decisions that are right for you and stick with them.

A Nigerian proverb says, “half a word is sufficient for the wise”. Oh, and by the way, the grave is full of indispensable people.


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