Let me ask you this…do you say yes a lot? We get programmed from an early age to say yes. Yes to our parents. Yes to our teachers. Yes to our lovers. Yes to our bosses. Yes to our children. When it comes to yes, the one person who hears it the least often is ourselves. We don’t want to disappoint, to be seen as a problem, to rock the boat. But our YES habit could be affecting us negatively in so many ways.
Think about a recent situation in which you said YES when you really wanted to say NO.
- How did you feel when you said YES (resentful, angry, disappointed)?
- What did you think about yourself or the other person in the situation (I’m so weak. They expect too much.)?
- How did saying YES affect you and people around you (had to cancel personal plans, was late to child’s recital or game, didn’t get to the grocery store and had to order takeout for dinner)?
I’ve been practicing saying YES to myself a lot lately, which inevitably leads to saying no to others. I’ve found that people seem okay when you have a good “excuse” for saying no, or at least what they consider a good excuse. But if you tell them you are saying no because you are making yourself a priority, which means not overscheduling your time or committing yourself to projects that don’t fit your current priorities, they have a tough time understanding. At least that has been my experience.
In her book “The Art of Extreme Self Care,” Cheryl Richardson talks about getting comfortable with disappointing people. Sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? Comfortable…with disappointing people? She discusses how we often avoid saying no because we:
- Don’t want to feel guilty
- Don’t want others to feel disappointed
- Don’t know the language to use to say no
- Are afraid of conflict
- Want people to like us
Does this sound familiar? I know it does for me. I’ve experienced all of these at one point or another. But I’ve also realized that when I disappoint myself, the effects are much longer-lasting and the consequences much more far-reaching than if I suck it up and say no to others.
If you want to join me in saying YES to yourself, here’s some tips you can try as recommended in Cheryl Richardson’s book:
- BUYING TIME: The next time someone asks you to do something and you feel pressured to say yes but want to say no, just let them know you need to think about it before you give an answer.
- CHECKING YOUR GUT: Check in with your body and what it is telling you about the situation. If you really listen, you’ll be able to hear it tell you if something feels right or wrong for you.
- TELLING THE TRUTH WITH GRACE AND LOVE: Say no by being honest and keeping your answer simple and direct. We tend to want to explain ourselves away, but it’s really not necessary. As long as you respond from a place of caring and respect for both yourself and the other person, it will come across.
For more information, I definitely recommend checking out Cheryl Richardson’s book, “The Art of Extreme Self Care.”
I’d love to hear about how you are saying YES to yourself. Please leave a comment below.
- Getting Unplugged: The Gift of Taking a Break from Technology
- Love or Fear: Which Will You Choose?
- From Procrastination to Power: How to Avoid Avoidance and Take Control of Your Life