A NP hard problem

Photo by Tijs van Leur on Unsplash

I made a decision today that made me feel uncomfortable.

  • It was against my preference— I really need to stretch myself to help, given the current workload I am facing.
  • It was against my belief — I once wrote in this blog that we should not do things so that people will like us. We should do things that actually add value. One criteria is that we will say “No” to ourselves when saying “Yes” to others. I clearly went against this rule.
  • I did not like the interactions — I felt the other party always had the upper hand in the interactions, even though the power to say “No” was with me. I just gave that power up.
  • I did not like my re-actions — I did not reject, but I did not accept “smoothly” either. This is probably the worst case. I still do the work, I do not feel happy about it and the other party knows that I was not really willing to help. I lose on all three ends.
  • It will not yield appreciation — I got the feeling that the other party thought this was something I should do, even though I made it clear that I was busy. Plus the feelings he got that I was not really willing to help, I do not think any appreciation will be generated here, even thought there was initially.
  • It will not make the other party feel good — He might get the feeling of being rejected because I was not willing.
  • It made me feel bad — not only because of all the above, but also because I know that I would not feel good even if I rejected him. I would start to think about all the good things he did for me and blame myself for not being grateful.
  • And it made me feel worse.
  • And I need to stay late to do the work…
Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne on Unsplash

This has been a NP-Hard problem for me. (NP-Hard = at least as hard as the hardest problem).

And clearly, it still is!

When I think back, I think two reasons really caused me to struggle:

  1. I wanted the other party to “like” me — there is a lot of mutual favor between us. And I do not want to give that up and I am afraid that rejecting will hurt that.
  2. I was not skillful enough — maybe there are skills that would enable me to say no without hurting the relationship.
Photo by Akhilesh Sharma on Unsplash

Therefore, it seems there are only two ways out.

  1. Build a strong mindset and become strong enough to believe that we can make it even if some people do not like us. As the old Chinese saying goes, no desire makes one strong. (BTW, this probably requires only courage. Having the “like” of people does not always help.)
  2. Become skillful enough. But at least for now, I do not really recommend this approach. No one is stupid and they could even possess better skills.

I think I am on my way, even though I feel like shit now.




Top-tier consultants seeking life purpose and self-realization

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium


Learning To Take The Sting Out Of Your Rejections

I got rescinded from college. Now what?

Advice to a former student

“You, Me, Us, We Are Valid!”

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


Top-tier consultants seeking life purpose and self-realization

More from Medium

Both Bitoff.io and Purse.io have some unique advantages each that you definitely need to know

Youtube algorithm will make you a Fanatic

The Top 10 Signs You Are Doing Too Many Good Deeds

“I’m my own kidnapper”