Growing up, many of us were taught that sharing is caring. We were expected to indulge requests because it showed we care.
We’re (mostly) past the days of safety scissors and glue sticks, though — where we’re going, we won’t need those things. Right now, you or I may be confronting a point — an intersection of two distinct avenues of maturation — of whether we become or remain “yes” men or if, perhaps for the first time, we buck the trend of being pushovers and think about No.
When you ask someone how they are, 95% of the time they will answer with some version of “busy”, “good, but busy” or even, sometimes, “crazy busy”. Busy has become a badge of honor, a signifier of success — a humble brag that implies we are important and in demand. But if you are “too busy”, chances are, you are not saying no enough. Many of us struggle to say no, fearing rejection, anger, or just the uncertainty of what the other person’s response will be. Our people-pleasing is often rooted in childhood. We might have been raised to be a good girl or boy, praised for being “mummy’s little helper”, or we might not have been given enough attention, and so sought it by pleasing others, even at the expense of ourselves.
We can get so used to saying yes and pleasing others that we don’t even know what we want, or what our needs are. But if your life is so tightly packed with other people’s requests that you don’t have time for what matters to you — or worse, your mental health is at risk — it is time to make a change. The first step to finding the word “no” is to get a little angry about all the time, energy, and money you have spent saying yes to things that you could have said no to. How many coffees have you had with people you didn’t want to have coffee with? How many weddings have you been to that you didn’t want to attend? How many hours of tedious meetings have you sat through when you had no real reason to be there?
When you say yes to something you don’t want to do, here is the result: you hate what you are doing, you resent the person who asked you, and you hurt yourself.” When it is coming from a place of subtle manipulation or even resentment, can saying yes when you mean no ever be a good thing?
“No” is sometimes the hardest word to say. It’s also the most necessary. How many times have you heard yourself saying yes to the wrong things — overwhelming requests, bad relationships, time-consuming obligations? How often have you wished you could summon the power to turn them down? A well-placed No can not only save you time and trouble, but it can also save your life. It’s one thing to say no, it’s another thing to have the power of No. When you do, you will have a stronger sense of what is good for you and the people around you, and you will have a deeper understanding of who you are. And, ultimately, you’ll be freed to say a truly powerful “Yes” in your life — one that opens the door to opportunities, abundance, and love.