I have never really know when to say “when”. Routinely, I overestimate my capacity to endure, withstand and under what conditions I am willing to survive. (This post does not translate well. If you would like it in another language, please email.)

Most often, it is not a case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach or truly biting off more than I can chew. I live by the axiom:

Anyone can eat an elephant

As acerbic as I can be, at heart I am an optimist. A realistic optimist, but an optimist nonetheless. I know I cannot do everything. I also know there are scores of things I cannot accomplish on my own. Another thing I know? There is a solution.

No matter how difficult a problem is a solution is available. The likelihood I can get the help I need to affect the solution is the part which is up for grabs. Not everyone is as willing to help as their job descriptions may purport or as their glowing reviews from friends attest.

When I am unable to get someone to help me push the stone in the water, I am unlikely to give up. I will look for a machine who has no capacity to tell me “no”. If it is not strong enough, I will attempt to batter the stone into pieces small enough for me to handle or ones I can recruit help to push.

This is part of my problem. While I am attempting this, I grow weary… my patience, what little I spare for those to whom I did not give birth, is exhausted. I want someone else to take a few bites of the elephant. I am happy to prepare it to their liking just so I am not the only one left with my jeans unbuttoned.

In my acceptance speech for the beauty pageant, I would be the one to cure world hunger with all the bites of elephant no one seems willing to take despite its superior nutritional value given its complete lack of GMO and inorganic food sources. See? Optimist. Working together nearly always solves more than one problem.

Seven Deadly

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Click to shop from Bearman Cartoons’ collection

So which of the seven deadly sins is the most responsible for the lack of cooperation which plagues us as a people?

Four are easy to pin: Greed, gluttony, sloth and envy. I daresay the other three are not far behind.

Anger: How dare you ask anyone to help you do something for which the entire benefit is not dedicated to them? You have seen someone who is contemptuous of being asked to do something for anyone outside their own skin. In some cases, the person will be angry enough to actively work against the solution.

Lust: The person who would help you wants something. In their active pursuit of their own desires, they are unable to put aside themselves long enough to even listen to what your problem is or pencil in 24 seconds to help you overcome it.

Pride: “Help” is beneath them. People who “help” are the people hired by (or who volunteer for) those to whom the prideful donate money (without ever bothering to see if the money is actually used to create “help”). To “help” would require descending from the ivory tower giving rise to the possibility of getting dirty, even figuratively.

Let’s make it simple and call them all what they are: selfishness.

Want to know something twisted? Nearly all of the people who refuse to help, on at least some level, think I am selfish for asking for help. If I am taking their (time, energy, resources) to solve a problem, I am taking away something they could use for their own pursuits.

(Pauses for effect.)

I am selfish because I ask for others to put aside what they are presently (doing, seeking, thinking about doing or seeking) to help me actually do something which may only benefit me by having a sense of accomplishment. Therein lies the other part of the selfishness problem. Not only does the “help” want to benefit but it also wants to carry the beholden card.

If I am not a quantitative beneficiary, the “help” is not able to return to say, “Remember when I did you that solid?” I am not seeking favor nor granting favor.


I hear “no” more often than you would imagine, excepting, of course, if you are only asking a four-year-old. When do I stop asking?

Good question. I still have no idea when to say “when”.

When was the last time you said “yes” to something which would only give you a sense of accomplishment? How do we get more people to say “yes” in a culture where “no” is predominant? How many “no”s does it take for you to say “when”?

Hashtags: #no #justsayyes

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  1. Tried to comment once before … didn’t work … getting piiied off … o well, here we pieee again … πŸ™‚ Love, cat.
    cat recently posted..Bud.My Profile

    • Bugger. I hate when that happens… Time for some code crawling as it is the second I have been brought abreast this week. Grr. That aside, thank you for being here this morning, Cat. πŸ™‚

  2. Red,

    Since you’ve recently been taking up Bob Heinlein’s works, it might interest you to see his take on this very subject…. It is one I’ve agreed with for my entire life, and which you came to all on your own…RAH said:

    “Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.Β 

    But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please — this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time — and squawk for more!

    So learn to say No – and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you. (This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don’t do it because it is “expected” of you.)”

    His head was pretty squarely situated on his shoulders, don’t you think? I know his words helped me immensely, for all of my life since age 11, when I first read Stranger In A Strange Land, my introduction to him….

    Another fine post, milady…

    gigoid, the dubious

    gigoid recently posted..Lately, it all seems less filling….My Profile

    • Ah, Gigs, I do say just that as a matter of routine, especially all of these times. The date on it should show I have held that belief for a long time. I am on a mission to rid the world of parasites and to a large degree sycophancy as well. While it may be symbiosis in terms of the remainder of the animal kingdom, in sapiens it is co-dependence.

      Duty has long been a sticking point with me. I have long held a different view of my obligations to myself, my offspring, my gene pool and my society. Often, I am the draft dodger because I feel no compulsion to line up to jump off the proverbial bridge.

      I will hold onto my capital… time, emotional, social (money), sanity. Happy to see you, Gigs. xxx

  3. Since I live next door to a narcissistic parasite I DO get the point!!!

    Sometimes saying NO needs to be backed up with a baseball bat!!! πŸ™

    Look after you and yours hun – nobody else is going to… πŸ™

    Love and huge hugs!

    Prenin recently posted..Saturday – The Oh Shit scenario?My Profile

    • Truly. Pren, it is the point to the questions. What needs be done for more than just the big-hearted make efforts for others? It has been plaguing me lately. xxx

  4. Great Post!
    I recently had an epiphany I know you will understand. I have so many things I want to do and would usually barge ahead and do them all in one day, ending up in bed with pain for the two following days. I learned to say no to myself. I developed a voice within that says on any given day with many activities I’m interested in, “Choose one for today.”
    I’ve been practicing this method and I am actually more productive, happier, and suffering less pain.
    No is good!
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Prose – Of Loss and LoveMy Profile

    • What a healthy epiphany! I am so enthralled to see you happy and healthier and being so productive. <3 If you have not seen it... check out the original “No.” post. xxx

  5. It’s give and take. You say no to those that only take, and yes to those that give as freely as you do.

    You should hear “yes” far more often than you hear no.
    Laurie recently posted..Saturday Evening PostMy Profile

  6. What a conversation this stirs.
    I have met people who make sure they are absent when help is asked. Makes me laugh how transparent someone can be.
    My mother always was there for everyone, our family and friends too no matter what it cost her in health or time. Her friends never had time for her. Shame.
    It costs nothing to help someone and is fulfilling. I don’t understand those with a hand out afterwards. I believe we must stop hitting our head against the wall when dealing with these kinds of people. Let them go and step back from helping them as well. Fair is fair.
    Tess recently posted..Shaolin: Day 7, Part 1My Profile

    • You and Laurie bring up similar ideas. You think depriving the takers will make them choose to say “when”?

      I agree to fundamental fairness. I suppose where it falls apart for me is the many who say “when” long before they ever receive any help.

  7. Actually I say yes rather a lot and help out as much as I can, usually in the gardening department where I seem to be the only one in the family that can recognise my mothers weeds πŸ™

    There are times when I could quite easily say no, or NO WAY but I seldom refuse to do things if asked nicely, I do like politeness when being asked to do a job of some kind but unfortunately being nice is not always the case as some peeps like things done immediately, and that is not always possible.

    This is a great posting Red, I just hope my comment posts πŸ™‚ Okay, before clicking on the Post Comment I think that it is time for a little Copy and Paste, just in case πŸ˜‰ lol

    Andro xxxx

    • I hope you did not need to paste it. πŸ™‚ LOL @ weeds. By in large, my second least favorite yard duty. I have a very qualified “no”. Usually, it is “No, because I know who is better at this than I.” It has been a while since I posted merely about being polite. Funny so many think I am rude. πŸ˜› xxxx

  8. It’s good to help of course, but sometimes you have to say no. Especially to someone who always asks for help, but is never there to reciprocate when they’re fully capable of helping.

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