Yes to the friend who always borrowed clothes and returned them with stains.
Yes to the boy who suggested you would be so much prettier if you had longer hair and lost a few inches from your thighs.
Yes to the teachers, parents and authority figures – not because they always knew best, but because they had more power.
Yes to the endless list of expectations you choose to place on yourself.
Yes to agreeing to help anyone and everyone, even if it means that your self-care flies out the window and leaves you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
Yessing yourself into a corner?
I grew up believing that if I did what was expected of me all the time and what others wanted me to do all the time – life would be perfect.
There would be no arguments, no cross-purposes, less stress and more importantly, people would like and love me, forever.
(I think we all know how this fairy tale ends).
A lifetime of Yessing ends up squelching the spirit, and ultimately leaves you living a lie.
One where you are disconnected from your own self-knowledge and self-respect – two very precious commodities.
I’ve learnt the hard way (also known as the best way), that you also lose the respect of others.
By failing to set firm personal boundaries, you end up feeling used and mistreated. It’s easy to blame others for feeling manipulated, but let’s be honest about who is perpetuating the cycle here.
So, how do you jump off the Yes merry-go-round?
What’s the fastest way to reclaim your life?
By learning how to say No.
The fastest way to reclaim your life.
Using the word ‘No’ purposefully, requires a certain level of self-awareness. If you have spent most of your life being a ‘Yes’ person, chances are, you are a bit cloudy when it comes to weighing up your own priorities.
Be patient and kind with yourself, and employ the following quick tips:
- Start by observing how you respond to requests. What is your internal reaction? What are you feeling when you say Yes or No to someone? Do you like or dislike the way you were asked? Is it an issue of time or money? Are you concerned that if you say No in this instance, you will miss out on an opportunity? Take a mental note of your emotional reasons for saying No. This will help you enormously in figuring out when it’s right for you to say Yes and when it’s time to use your No.
- Never say Yes when you mean No. If it’s hard (and it will be when you start out) – take a pause. Ask for a minute to think about that. Tell the person you will get back to them shortly. Whatever you do – resist the urge to say Yes immediately!
- Never say Yes when you intend on saying No later. (I know this is another one of our people pleasing tricks!). Saying ‘Yes’ and then changing your mind later is a cop-out. It always ends in angst and its a lie – to yourself and others. That’s no way to live and no way to earn self-respect.
- Turn to technology. If saying ‘No’ in person seems like an impossible feat, use an email or a text message. Some will call this a cowardly act. I don’t recommend that you rely on this method – however, there are occasions when you just need to do whatever it’s going to take to get you to the next level.
- Practice. The fastest way to reclaim your life is via baby steps! If your usual ‘No’ sounds like a quiet murmur, followed by a long-winded apology – drop the explanation and try a firm, but polite ‘No’ or, ‘That’s not going to work for me, sorry.’ Then move on.
So, over to you. Do you find it challenging to turn people down? How is that affecting your life? Or, are you an expert at handling a purposeful ‘No’?