When is the last time you said “No” to someone? Are you a Yes Man or Yes Woman?
I used to be the biggest Yes Woman on the planet: I could never say no. In my head, I was saying, “NO! NO! HELL NO!!” but, somehow, through what I believed was no fault of my own, “Yes” would eek out the corner of my mouth. No matter what I was asked, even if it meant putting off something I already had planned for myself, I would say “Yes, sure, I can do that.” Well, a few years back, I started to look into why I was always saying Yes. Of course, it’s because I was a pleaser. Somehow, over time, I had developed the insane delusion that it was my sole mission in life to ensure the happiness of others around me — oftentimes at the expense of my own happiness.
We often become addicted to the approval of others. We dread the idea of someone thinking (or, God forbid, speaking) ill of us. To ensure this doesn’t happen, we please; it’s like Yes Man crack! And let’s not forget that ever-present five-letter word, G.U.I.L.T., worse than any four-letter word I have ever heard. If you empower guilt, it can be like a disease that, instead of eating away at your flesh, swallows up your soul and spirit. Too dramatic? I think not. Guilt is very powerful.
Without going into detail (for personal reasons), certain events happened in my life that almost overnight removed the word “Yes” from my vocabulary. It was the most freeing, life-changing active step I have ever taken. Ladies, you all know that amazing, liberating feeling when you remove your bra at the end of a long day. (Guys, find your own metaphor.) Well, multiply that feeling by a gazillion! For the first time in so many years, I had my life back; hell, I had a life. I made a conscious decision to limit myself to a certain number of “Yes” answers per week — I was officially on a “Yes” diet.
Most studies say it takes 30 days to make or break a habit. Maybe so, but dealing with the “Yes” addiction is a life-long process. It is all-too-easy to let that ugly Guilt Monster suck you back into to being a pleaser. Here are three tips that I use to hold my course on the ongoing journey to the beautiful Land of No.
1. Be Sorry
Replace “Yes” with an “I’m sorry,” then follow it up with “I just can’t do that right now.” The apology will curb the old Guilt Monster, and your polite frankness is sure to keep you in good standing with the person who was asking.
2. Don’t think
People may tell you to reply with “Let me think about it and I will get back to you.” Avoid this answer at all costs! This will kill your “Yes” diet. The Guilt Monster will eat away at you and, when confronted with the request again, you will fold up like a lawn chair. A “No” is a very short word and must be delivered swiftly! Like ripping off a Band-Aid!
3. You Owe Nothing
If someone is brazen enough to counter your “No” with a “Why not?”, remember you never have to explain yourself. “I just can’t” is a more-than-good-enough explanation — and they probably don’t even deserve that! In life, you are entitled to make your choices without judgment or question. What makes these situations any different? That’s right: nothing.
We are taught at a very young age that No means no, and that we should Just say no; we just need to incorporate this attitude/perspective in all aspects of our life. We teach our kids that bullying is not OK, so why do we let ourselves get bullied into doing things we don’t want to?
Over the past few years, I have not lost anything on my “Yes” diet. What has happened is, I have gained so much more respect for myself, as well as valuable insight into what truly matters to me. Just say “Yes” to saying “No”! Will you be glad you did? YES!
Dee Brun is the award-winning author of Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time, a cocktail chef and stylist, TV personality, home entertaining guru, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV Junkie, shoe-aholic, and borderline George Clooney stalker. Read her column, Isn’t it Deelightful, every Friday on Slice.ca.