A “Yes” response to a request tells others that you are cooperative, agreeable, and helpful. A “Yes” reaction shows enthusiasm, willingness, and drive. Well, that is at least what I grew up believing it to mean. I wanted to be all of those things so Yes was the default response to requests of and offers to me.
I have said yes to classes, handouts, and events. I’ve willingly stepped up to help a club officer or be an officer, to take over a project for someone, or to be in charge of an event. I’ve said yes so many times to so many people and situations I’ve become, at times, burned out, jaded, and (Yes!) weary.
What I’ve learned is that I default to “Yes” out of fear of not being accepted or liked. Sometimes “Yes” comes out of my mouth in fear of retribution of some sort. Fear has me say Yes for myriad reasons that have no basis in reality. Sometimes — or often, perhaps — I say Yes when I mean No. Is that true for you, too?
I’ve said yes to the detriment of my workload and quality, my personal life, and my own health. That’s not right. That’s enough. I decided that it was time to quit saying Yes.
Slowly, I’m learning to say what I mean and mean what I say. For example, recently I was asked to be on a subcommittee for an area of health that means a lot to me. I asked what was involved and told it involved only a weekly group meeting (Zoom call, for now). That seemed doable. During the first meeting, I got the sense that more would be asked of me over time.
In this situation, for now, I’ll work with myself learning to not volunteer my spare time so that I can honor the simpler, focused life I’ve been developing. I’ll work to not accept more responsibility than sharing ideas and connections for the group. I’ll work to limit my commitment to the weekly phone calls I was promised. And when that’s not good enough, I’ll walk away.
The answer of Yes is going to be reserved for activities that further my purpose. I’ll say Yes to short and long walks with my husband, and for my Camino training. Yes will be the answer when it comes to spending time on my mission. Interacting with my husband, like for date nights, will get a Yes. Yes is the answer I’ll give to living my life. No is the answer I’ll give to everything else.
In short, No has become my default, and moving it to Yes takes deliberation: it’s no longer automatic.
Much of this growth is possible because I’m getting a handle on my fears and developing the mindset that supports my life. I’m expanding the tools I use to encourage the life I want to live. I’m learning that my fears can’t be catered to and that Yes is the wrong answer. Often, No is the better answer.
When you are ruled by Yes, you are ruled by your fears. Is that what you want for your life? Or do you want to live a life of your own design and creation? If that’s true for you, it’s time to overcome your fears and to learn to quit saying Yes. Consider a No answer instead. Put fear in its place, one situation at a time.