We very often think that saying “yes,” even when we want to say “no,” is the key to making a relationship good.
We think that other people will appreciate our self-sacrifice of accommodating them, even when we don’t feel like it.
We think that people will understand that all we want is for them to be happy and comfortable.
Often we’ve been told that people with a “good attitude” say “yes” instead of saying “no.”
Often we’ve been told that saying “no” means we’re being “negative”— and NOBODy wants to be in a relationship with someone who is NEGATIVE, right?
So we say “yes” when we want to say “no.” Over, and over, and over again.
It’s true that our lives are full of people who don’t want to her the word “no.”
But it is NOT true that constantly saying “yes” when we want to say “no” is the pathway to “good” relationships.
The truth is, when we repeatedly say “yes” when we want to say “no,” our self-esteem pays the price.
We find ourselves continually forced into situations we didn’t choose, not REALLY— but that we can’t complain about having not chosen, because “technically” we opted in by saying “yes.”
If we find ourselves again and again in situations we didn’t choose and we don’t want, and unable to safely or realistically opt out, we’re GOING to end up both unmotivated and angry.
If we feel unable to say “no” when we mean “no,” our life is going to feel uncontrollable and unmanageable.
It’s hard to convince yourself to get out of bed in the morning when you KNOW you’re headed toward a day in which you have virtually no say in the supposed “choices” in front of you.
It’s hard to respect and value yourself if you’re not standing up for yourself on a level as basic as, “I don’t want to do that thing, and I don’t have to do that thing.”
When we’re unable to say “no” directly and unapologetically, our brain and body WILL find ways to say “no” passively and indirectly.
If we don’t give ourselves a conscious, intentional way to set limits, our nervous system will register its protest basically by shutting down.
Saying “no” is taking care of ourselves in one of the most fundamental ways possible.
We are responsible for setting limits that keep us safe and sane. Other people might be able to help and support us in setting limits, but in the end it is our responsibility.
Saying “no” when we need to say “no” isn’t just good for us— it’s really important to those people with whom we’re in relationships.
If THEY can’t trust us to say “no” when we mean “no,” then they can’t trust that our “yes” to them is particularly meaningful.
The people in our lives deserve to know that when we say “yes,” we mean “yes.”
The only way that realistically happens is if we are able and willing to say “no” when we mean “no.”
Nobody is saying that saying “no” is easy. It’s not.
We often think we’ll be in trouble. We think we’ll be abandoned. We think we’ll be attacked.
And, make no mistake— sometimes those fears are absolutely warranted. The world does NOT like it when we say “no.”
We have to be willing to risk it— for ourselves AND those we love.
For our self-esteem, for our goals and dreams, for our stability, for our sanity.
Saying “no” isn’t “negative.”
It’s one of the most positive behaviors we can possibly nurture.