Why We Should Say "No" More Often

Do you ever catch yourself saying yes to things just as a matter of habit or because you feel obligated? I’d like to think that it is part of the human condition to respond with this quick-fix answer and later on feel regretful, perhaps even resentful towards the situation we got ourselves into, not so willingly. How is it that we still say yes to people when asked to do something, or go somewhere, that we really have no interest in?

As I was writing this, Goodlife Fitness called me and informed me that I have a free seven day pass to attend their gym. As I listened to the representative’s well-rehearsed speech, I looked out the window and saw snow, rain, and I think maybe the end of the world approaching. When he was all finished up, he asked, “So, are you interested in the free seven day pass?” And to my surprise, I said no.

I knew that if I said yes, I would end up avoiding phone calls from the gym, lying to the representative about why I couldn’t make it in, or why I hadn’t begun my trial as yet. I also knew that I would have to come up with another lie as to why I didn’t want to sign up for a year, granted they would most likely ask me on that seventh day. For once, I opted for the easy way out. The real easy way out.

Our problem is two-fold. The first part is what was mentioned above about feeling the need to lie and tell people what they want to hear, rather than have them deal with hearing the truth; your truth. Then, because we lied, we have to deal with the consequences within ourselves, through some elaborate façade because we have to maintain that lie.

The second part of it is that we tend to confuse the quick and easy solution for the real solution. We would rather say yes to avoid being questioned or asked to explain our choice on the spot, than to give our honest answer and our honest explanation, and put an end to the situation right then and there.

But somehow, I avoided this today in a three minute phone call, and was even thanked for my honesty.

Truthfully, it can take a long time to realize you have an addiction to saying yes. But if you constantly find yourself dodging phone calls, giving people the wrong number, or saying that you’re sick just to avoid going out, maybe you have some thinking to do.

The first step is to take your time when you are being asked a favor, being invited somewhere or anything else for that matter that you very well may not want to do. The trick to this is being considerate of how you might feel when the time comes around. Many times we say yes to things because at the moment it sounds like a great idea. Then you get cozy in bed on a Friday night after a long day at work, and going out doesn’t sound like such a great idea anymore.

The second step is to ask the right questions. Instead of immediately shutting down the Goodlife guy, I asked him if there was a time frame in which I had to use the pass, and he said no. While that was reassuring, and maybe even enticing, I knew myself well enough to know that by the time (if it ever came) I was ready to redeem it, I may have had too much else going on to make the time for it. Asking the right questions helps you to make clearer decisions when you’re being asked for an answer on the spot.

Speaking of giving answers on the spot, the last step is to use your right to the word “maybe”. This means allowing yourself a way out if you feel undecided. If the person needs an immediate yes or no and you have doubts, say no! The opportunity will more than likely come around again, unless it’s some coveted once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and even then, was this on your bucket list?

All in all, we cannot continue to live life being the victims of circumstances we have created for ourselves. We should do what we want with our lives, not what other people want us to do with it. So the next time you’re asked to stop and pick something or someone up, when really you don’t want to, say no! The next time you’re invited to a party you know you might not want to go to, say maybe. There is always more room to change your mind to do something than there is to change your mind against doing it, especially if you’ve already said that you would.

While this may seem like a small change to make, essentially, you are taking control of your life and your time; even if it will only be spent rolling around in bed doing absolutely nothing. And that, precisely, is the beauty of it all.

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