Jodie Foster: There’s 1 Word Gen Z Has An Easier Time Saying Than Other Generations

“I didn’t know that was possible when I was young..."
Jodie Foster at the Hammer Museum's Gala in the Garden in May.
Jodie Foster at the Hammer Museum's Gala in the Garden in May.
Gilbert Flores via Getty Images

Jodie Foster may find Gen Z “really annoying” sometimes — but admires their ability to say a certain word with ease.

During a Hollywood Reporter roundtable discussion published on Sunday — which also included Brie Larson, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Sofía Vergara, Naomi Watts and Anna Sawai — the dramatic actors were asked, “What do you wish somebody had called and told you …right now in your career or at the beginning of your careers?”

The Oscar winner was quick to give her response.

“You can say no,” the True Detective star said a little over five minutes into the conversation. “For whatever reason I didn’t know that when I was young, that I can say no.”

Jodie added: “That’s what’s good about this new generation is they’re very comfortable with saying no. Very, very good at setting boundaries and going, ‘I don’t like that’ and ‘I want to do this.’ And I didn’t know that was possible when I was young.”

The inability to say “no” is a common trait of people pleasers, psychologist Scott Rower told HuffPost in 2021. Rower noted that this behaviour is also common among people who grew up in dysfunctional environments where trauma or abuse may have occurred.

“Most of us are doing this unconsciously — ‘It’s just who I am’ — without awareness that this was an adaptive strategy for navigating the world back then, but has outgrown its use,” Rower said. “Pleasing others and being seen as good provides the security, pleasure and status that we all seek to let us know we are safe, good and worthy.”

But the inability to say no could also negatively impact a people pleaser’s health in the long run.

“We only have so much emotional and physical energy,” social psychologist Susan Newman told HuffPost. “Agreeing to too many obligations puts you at risk for the stress and anxiety that comes from completing all you’ve committed to.”

“In extreme people-pleasing cases, too many yeses may lead to depression or manifest itself by affecting your physical health in different and sometimes surprising ways that seem unrelated and unexplained — headaches, hair loss or sleeplessness,” Newman added.

The experts told HuffPost that the best way to build confidence in saying no is to practice by rejecting small things.

“Start by looking for two opportunities this week to say no to small things in your life,” said Aziz Gazipura, a confidence coach and author. “You can practice when a retail worker asks if you want to open up a store credit card or when the server tries to push an expensive bottle of wine on you.”

“Just like hitting the gym, the first few weeks might be hard and you may feel resistance to doing it,” Gazipura said. “But once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll discover the horrible reactions to fear rarely happen, and you’ve just accessed a new level of freedom.”


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