Two Life Changing Words: How “Yes” and “No” are Misused

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yes-no diceThe words “yes” and “no” are extremely powerful words that carry strong feelings and emotions. These can even be life changing words. But these words are also the most misused words in our language today. Because of this, you may have what I call “yes and no confusion.” Here’s how to tell if you do and how to avoid misusing “yes” and “no.”

Starting and ending with the word “Yes”

Consider all of the times you’ve said yes to an extra task, project, activity, commitment or responsibility. Maybe you said yes when you were asked to stay late at work, help a friend complete a project, or take on a task you could have handed over to someone else.

Of course your intentions were honorable, but if you have ever said yes when you were already overscheduled, overextended and overwhelmed with what was on your plate, then you have misused the word.

You probably say yes for many reasons. Maybe you say it because:

  • You want  to feel part of the group or team
  • You want to feel you are contributing, helping, giving
  • You want to feel needed, necessary, valuable
  • You believe it’s the right thing to do
  • You believe it’s the only solution
  • You think it’s being nice

Now, here’s something to think about. When you’re already overscheduled and overwhelmed, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve neglected your own self-care. With extra responsibilities, there’s no longer any time for your workout, planning a healthy meal, getting a haircut, that long overdue manicure, or that extra hour of sleep. Taking care of yourself gets pushed even further down on your list of priorities. 

And here is what else usually happens. You may resent the new responsibilities taken on (or the person who asked you to do them) because you wish you had a few minutes to accomplish something that was important to you, like:

  • A neglected task on your to-do list
  • Reconnecting with friends or partners
  • Snuggling with your kids
  • Reading your new magazine
  • Taking a much needed nap

So, on top of not taking the time to recover from your stressful day, you deplete yourself even more. Now, it’s even easier to convince yourself that a healthy, balanced lifestyle is too far out of your reach. This is exactly how life-changing words are misused – every day!

When you look at what’s truly important to you, what you really value, how often do you say yes to:

  • Spending time with friends
  • Spending time with family
  • Spending time on better self-care
  • Spending time making healthy choices

If you can put an end to saying yes to everything, you will stay true to what makes life meaningful. You’ll stop the whirlwind of activity – at least long enough to consider what’s driving your need to say “yes” so often.

Saying yes to everyone can be the result of an issue with self-esteem, self-love, self-worth or fear. It can even be as simple as a bad habit, conditioning or a simple automatic response, but whatever the cause, find out why you do it and stop “Yes-ing” without any real direction. Start discovering how life changing the word can be when used correctly.

Two important things to consider when saying “Yes”

It may not be easy to stop yourself when someone is expecting you to say yes. It may not feel good when their usual “go-to” person turns them down, but here are two things you must consider:

  1. You turned down their request, not them. They will have to learn the difference.
  2. While that minute may be painful, the freedom you gain and the ability to stay true to your real priorities, lasts much longer.

How saying “No” can lead to more success

How often have you said “No” to a new adventure, opportunity, possibility or situation? Has there ever been time when you know that you could have had an exciting experience, a rewarding relationship, or a new direction… if you hadn’t said no?

Maybe it was an opportunity to learn and grow, a time when you were asked to leave your comfort zone to pursue a dream or goal. Maybe it was the chance to take a trip to someplace fabulous, a place you had been interested in for a long time. Or maybe it was as ordinary as an unexpected opportunity that required you to make a spontaneous, immediate decision.

You may have wanted to say yes in that single fleeting moment – or the idea may still be sitting on the back burner of your mind, desperately trying to get your attention – so, why did you say no or why are you still saying no? Let me guess. You believe:

  • You are too busy
  • You are too old
  • You are too heavy
  • You are not smart enough
  • You are not pretty enough
  • You don’t have the right resources, information, or equipment

Sound about right? This is typical of “yes and no confusion” and the reason that so many opportunities for success come and go. If you aren’t feeling successful, take a closer look at how often you have misused life-changing words.

Opportunities present themselves for a reason!

Opportunities don’t “show up” unless you have the means and capability to act on them. Unfortunately, when you’re so overextended with other commitments or overwhelmed with what’s currently on your plate, you can fail to see opportunities that are literally right in front of you. You either don’t recognize them or can’t imagine having the time to pursue them. And, like so many of us, you may talk yourself out of many opportunities because of a belief system you’ve adopted that makes you feel safe – but keeps you “small.”

It’s like when you were a kid and you wanted to jump off the diving board. You thought about it for a while, maybe stepped onto the diving board a few times (and then back off) but you just couldn’t bring yourself to risk it.

  • You wanted to
  • You knew how fun it would be
  • You couldn’t get over whatever was holding you back

At some point, we’ve all faced that diving board. For those who finally made the decision to risk it, ran to the end of the board and jumped… it was life changing! We wanted to do it again and again and again. Why? Because, right past the fear was pure bliss!

The grownup version of you may have put on a few extra pounds of fear, doubt and insecurity, causing you to say no to the very things that make life spectacular and set you up for success.

It’s time to use the right words at the right time

Say “No” to those things that take you further away from giving your best to yourself and those you love. Begin to say “Yes” to those things that encourage you to look, feel and live your best, and remember, saying no to something good can leave more room for saying yes to things that are truly great.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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February 2023