Stop Saying Yes When You Mean NO!

By Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Esq.

Have you ever gotten caught in a cycle of doing things . . . then, ultimately resenting it? When you find yourself constantly doing things and at some point resenting having done it, it’s a signal to you of two important things: (1) it’s time to change your inner beliefs that compel you to take action that dishonors your true desires; and (2) it’s time to reclaim your personal power.

When you say “Yes” to something you don’t really want to do (hence, the subsequent resentment), your response is driven by an underlying belief that compels you to take the action in the first place.  For example, one of my clients had a hard time saying “No” to her clients’ requests to offer discounted prices.  She would agree to the discount, then feel devalued and undermined. Other examples include, saying “Yes” because you want to be nice, you want to be liked, you feel somehow obligated (e.g., to your boss, spouse, kids, or parents), or because it’s something important to you and no one else will step up.

The key to tackling the underlying belief that keeps you stuck is to get really honest with yourself.  Ask yourself, “What motivates me to keep saying “Yes” when I really don’t want to?”  Don’t judge or discredit anything that comes up.  Just simply observe it.  When you feel like no more answers are coming up, ask yourself, “What need am I trying to fulfill?”  

Once you’ve identified what motivates you to take resentment-inducing action, it’s time to reclaim your personal power.  The resentment is a signal that you are engaging in an action that dishonors you or your values.  The good news is that you can stop the cycle and begin a new journey that honors you.  In order to reclaim your personal power, identify ways YOU can meet your underlying need.  For example, if you keep saying “Yes” to friends or family because you want to be liked, then your underlying need may be a desire to feel appreciated.  Discover ways you can show yourself appreciation.  Perhaps it’s learning to say “No,” giving yourself permission to take a break, or pursuing something you’re passionate about.

After identifying other ways to meet your needs, make a two-way commitment.  The first commitment is to start saying “No” when you don’t want to do something.  It’s perfectly fine to take baby steps here.  The key is to work your way toward honoring your true desires consistently.

The second commitment you must make is to take action that fulfills your underlying needs.  This is crucial because if you don’t, the void will make it more likely for you to go back into old patterns.  Again, baby steps are fine.  Just commit.

The more you understand your underlying beliefs and needs and commit to fulfilling them in a way that honors you, the happier you will be.  Here’s to a life without resentment! 

Do you end up saying “Yes” when you really want to say “No”?  What would you tell others who are in the same position?  Share your thoughts below.

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