In my early twenties (and most of my childhood, to be honest), I could not stop saying yes to others. In fact, saying “no” made me feel ashamed or fear, and, quite honestly, like I was a bad friend/person.
I’m the first to admit, I’m a recovering “people pleaser.”
I would always try to reason with myself that despite reasons A, B and C, I could still say yes to whatever, no matter what the consequences to my personal life. However, slowly but surely, I learned that my “people pleasing” was hurting my overall wellness and derailing me from my path. Plus, the older I get, the more time seems more and more precious. I’m dedicated to spending it with the friends and family I cherish, or doing the things I want to expand my horizons.
While it may have taken me awhile to make sure I was using the word “no” properly, here are a few of my tips to help you overcome your need to say yes:
Always wait before you respond to someone – whether in-person or text – if you’re struggling over whether to agree to something and truthfully consider the consequences. Are you going to look back and agree that this choice was a good idea? Or are you going to regret it immediately? Even on my toughest decisions, I have to hold onto the “hell yes” or “hell no” philosophy – if it’s not a “hell yes,” I can’t agree to it.
Recognize that you have a choice.
You need to decide if a yes or no feels like freedom—and choose that. Even though it doesn’t always seem like it, you have more choices than you think. Just be polite, but firm. Simply remember that if it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.
Realize you can’t please everybody.
Other people will always control our agendas, our calendars, our lives, if we let them. And that’s a recipe for misery because we have more than one person in our life. We have our family, friends, colleagues, college alumni, pets, neighbors, (the list goes on!) to please. However, we can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives.
Remember it gets easier.
Fun fact: practice does make perfect. Once you say you are unavailable, unreachable, un-manipulatable a few times, people stop asking so much from you. The irony? They can even respect, and like, you more because you’re standing up yourself and priorities.
Do you have any more tips? Has anyone else dealt with this?