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  • Writer's pictureTarshi Mack

Stop Saying “Yes” and Start Saying “No”

One would assume that saying “Yes” more often will bring you more satisfaction. After all, the word “yes” has a positive association. In the comedy “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey, the protagonist starts to say “yes” against his will, causing him to face many zany situations. This movie had a happy ending, but things don’t turn out this way in the real world. Saying “yes” to everything is not only a foolish move but a dangerous one as well.

Saying “no” or refusing someone’s proposal isn’t a bad thing. Imagine being in a situation where you say “yes” out of obligation only to regret the decision later. To get out of the situation, you’ll have to say “no” and explain yourself by either revealing the truth or making excuses. If you had truthfully said “no” early on, you wouldn’t be in this awkward situation.

You need to understand that saying “no” doesn’t make you a terrible person. You need to say this two-letter word with conviction. After you have answered in the negative, you have to stand firmly on it. By saying “no,” you have not become unkind, selfish, or rude; instead, you have only stated your limitations and asserted yourself.

The Philosophy Behind Saying “Yes”

Have you ever thought about why saying “no” is so difficult as an adult? What’s the first word you learned to say besides “mama” and “dada?” Probably no. However, our parents taught us that saying “no” was impolite. So, we learned to say “yes.”

Psychologically, you are still holding on to that belief from your childhood, and it might be stopping you from standing your ground and saying “no.” You might fear humiliation, shame, abandonment, and rejection.

Now that you know what the hurdle is, let’s work on removing it:

Tips on How to Start Saying “No” More Often

Lay Down Your Personal Boundaries

Your mental and emotional spaces define your personal boundaries between the other person and yourself. They are the gatekeepers that allow you to think much clearer. Setting boundaries with your loved ones can be difficult, but by saying “no,” you can preserve your energy and ensure you are there for them in their time of need. Setting boundaries is a great stress management technique that will help you in the long run.

Practice Saying No

Easier said than done! Let’s run a little drill:

It’s your nephew’s 12th birthday, and you have been invited. Unfortunately, you have to sit late at work that day and can’t make it. What will you say?

  • I promise I will do my best to come.

  • No, I don’t think I will come. The meeting will go on for too long, and I will be too exhausted by the end of it.

Which one is it going to be? Remember ― in some situations, you have to think about yourself.

Know That You Cannot Possibly Please Everyone

Strategic thinking is the key to saying “no.” You cannot make everyone happy. Saying “yes” to everything and everyone is a recipe for disaster. You’ll be frustrated and stressed because you might give your best to one person and be too tired to do the same for others. Plus, pleasing everyone is impossible! You are not disrespecting anyone by saying “no.” Again, self-care is extremely important, and running yourself ragged trying to make everyone happy is simply not right.

Address Your FOMO

Fear of Missing Out or FOMO is a real thing. Fans of the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine would have seen Amy Santiago having FOMO. In the world of social media, everyone wants to share their life with others. Let’s take the birthday example again. You might have said “yes” to attending the party under peer pressure despite knowing you have numerous deadlines to complete at work. There would be plenty of similar opportunities in the future, and missing one won’t make you a loser. So, get rid of the scarcity mindset and learn to prioritize.

Next time when you face a situation where you feel you have to say “yes” when you want to say “no” ask yourself— is saying “yes” worth it? If “no,” what are the reasons? Remember, a “no” won’t be the end of the world.


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