When Is It Serviceable to Say No?

A lesson from a recent lockdown

Words by Julie Katigbak

Another snap seven-day lockdown was announced in Melbourne in the middle of last week, meaning people are not allowed to go out to mingle and do our usual leisure activities. My manager, who knows I love my weekends for myself, asked whether I wanted to do some weekend overtime. I felt instantly annoyed, and my immediate thought was, Just because it's lockdown doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing!
I find it hard to say no to things I know would contribute positively to others—like doing overtime work, which would help get rid of some backlogs, not to mention I’d earn extra moolah. Recently, however, I have been training myself to not overthink things and simply say no if I am unable to do or do not like what's being asked of me. I have been pretty good at it and have been saying no to anything that does not serve a purpose. I’ve even been saying no to myself—like to shopping for stuff that I don't really need and love.

My power of letting go of material possessions and mental clutter has also become stronger each day. I’ve learned that “not busy” does not mean “not doing anything,” nor is it an invite to do something. I can choose to just lie around and rest my mind. This may sound selfish, but if you think about it, working full time five days a week is not selfish at all. Resting over the weekend is self-care, to recharge for another week of hard work, to be able to serve others.

Regarding my boss’s offer for me to work overtime last weekend, I actually said yes. To be honest, I felt bad about my immediate emotional reaction—not for my manager’s sake, but for my own. Allowing my fury to get the better of me is nothing but unhealthy for my mental health and well-being. I was not planning to do any significant relaxation or peaceful activity on Saturday anyway. My planned morning walk along the beach was not until the following day. So I worked overtime. I committed four hours in the morning on Saturday, and it gave me a sense of purpose and relief. It served me positively in the end.

What lesson did I learn from this event? Saying no is not just a matter of rejecting something because we don’t want to do it, full stop. It must be a sensible decision so as not to negatively impact others and, at the same time, cause self-inflicted drama and stress for ourselves. I am glad I was able to evaluate the situation before it was too late, and it made me realise that I am still a human being on a continuous, exciting minimalism journey.

Julie Katigbak

Julie Katigbak is a technical credit specialist in the credit home loans department at ME Bank in Melbourne, Australia. She is experienced in providing ample technical support to credit assessors in terms of credit policy, process, and decision making. Julie is a valuable member of the credit team who is motivated to assist others to improve and succeed in their roles. Her interests outside work are beauty, contributing to saving the environment, minimalism, and self-care and exercise such as yoga and barre.


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Inside Minimalism is our series of exclusive essays on simple living. Each essay is written by our team of writers who are passionate about helping you craft a simpler life. Supported by their own personal experiences, we want to inspire and encourage you to clear the path of life’s stuff, so you can get to where you really want to be.

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