One of the earliest podcasts that I recorded for The Mental Health Gym website dealt with a concept that I developed and call Competent Person’s Disease. I consider it as an “addiction to 2nd place.”
People who have Competent Person’s Disease are – as the name implies – very capable, and this results in people relying upon them to do things that they are perfectly cable of doing themselves. Thus, the competent person can wind up doing more than his or her share of the work unless that person is occasionally able to say “No!.”
While other people play a role in overloading this type of person by their requests or even demands, the competent person who gets sucked into this type of situation is a vey active participant in the process by failing to say “No!”
Does this description fit you?
There are a lot of reasons why some people have difficulty saying “No!” Sometimes it’s because of a lack of acquired assertiveness. Sometimes it’s because it feels rewarding to be relied upon. Sometimes there is an issue of control and a lack of trust that somebody else can do something as well as you can. – so you go ahead and do it rather than declining and trusting the other person.
The inability to say “No!” can have a multiplying effect, however. The more you establish yourself as agreeing to do anything that is asked of you, the more things start being asked of you. You become the “go to person” not only in your area of expertise, but also the “go to person” when it comes to mailing a letter or loading the dishwasher or taking out the trash.
If you aren’t good at saying “No!” a reasonable percentage of the time, you increase your chances of becoming overloaded and resentful.
In order to be comfortable in saying “No!” it is necessary to have sufficient confidence in yourself to recognize that your acceptance and popularity are based on traits and talents that go beyond agreeing to everything that is asked of you.
If saying “No!’ on occasion is a problem for you, take a good and honest look at yourself. Identify those things that you like the most about yourself, and recognize that other people also can see your positive traits and talents – or they wouldn’t be trying to take advantage of them. So long as you agree to do everything that’s asked of you, however, no matter how unnecessary some of those things may be, you can’t expect somebody else to do your job of sticking up for yourself and occasionally saying “No!.”