Have you ever perused the self-help section at a bookstore or online and noticed the omnipresence of the word “yes?” Titles such as: Yes you Can!, Yes for Success and The Power of YES!!! crowd shelves and web pages. We love highlighting the benefits of saying “yes,” but we often find ourselves overlooking its darker side. By definition, “yes” is positive, sure, but it’s also a word that can bring a lot of pain and frustration to your life. Have you ever said “yes” to heading down a career path that your parents chose for you? How about “yes” to staying in a relationship with a person who doesn’t deserve you. Do you find yourself “yes-ing” through life, rolling with the punches, letting the world dictate how things pan out for you? Stop rolling with it and start hitting back with the power of “no.” Here are three ways you can find out if “no” needs to be reintroduced to your vocabulary.

The thought of saying it makes you squirm

Does the thought of saying “no” to someone make you uncomfortable? Do you find yourself agreeing with others just to avoid the awkwardness of a disagreement? Why is it so damn hard to say a two-lettered word? Read a few academic studies and you’ll find the general consensus to be that humans are social creatures by nature. In general, we like to work together, we enjoy getting along and cooperating to work towards a shared goal. By most people’s definitions, “no” goes against all of the above. It means the opposite of cooperation. This is what makes saying it really difficult. In order to take no out of the taboo, you have to look at the word from a different angle.

Make a change: The first change you can make is to redefine the word itself. What does “no” mean to you right now? Do you parallel it with words like “conflict,” “disappointment” and “negativity?” If you do, then scratch those off your list and replace them with words like “choice,” “self-respect” and “honesty.” Using this potent, two-lettered word doesn’t make you a negative person, a hater, or even a Debbie Downer; it makes you someone who’s willing to stand up for yourself and do the right thing. Using the word “no” under the right circumstances can develop incredibly positive results in your life. This may all sound counterintuitive at first, but I think you’ll agree with me.

You’re everyone’s #1 favor-doer

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a helpful friend, that’s what we’re for right? But when you look around your group of peers, do you often find yourself getting the short end of the stick? Are you always the designated-driver on Friday nights, or the serial money-lender when your pals are broke? If you find yourself as a standout giver amongst your peers, then you’re probably not saying “no” enough. Never saying “no” to your buddies doesn’t make you the world’s greatest friend, it makes you the world’s friendliest doormat. Sure your friends will be happy when you do things for them, but they’ll never truly appreciate you for the right reasons because they know that when it comes to doing favors, you’ll fold like origami under thier requests. To earn respect, you have to start being more respectable.

Make a change: An occasional favor is all fair, but next time you get a request from a friend that you really don’t want to do, just say “no.” It’s not easy to say, I know, but the initial uncomfortableness of it all will dissipate and soon be replaced by a feeling of relief. You’d be amazed at how great it feels to no longer beat everyone’s beck and call. No likes feeling like a servant. A bonus of actively trying “no” out with your friends is that it helps you see their true colors. If your peers start treating you differently because you’re not living to serve their existence, then you know that they weren’t great friends to have in the first place.

Your love life is always a problem

Of all the people that you could say it to, uttering the word “no” to your significant other can feel impossible at times. Ideally, it’s because of love, but it’s more often because of fear. Fear of disappointing them, fear of making them angry, and of course, fear of losing them. Saying no means confrontation, confrontation means an argument and the right argument can mean a breakup. The longer you’re with someone, the harder it is to think about a life without them, thus, you can find saying “no” less and less, just to keep the peace. Similarly to friendships, being a “yes-man/woman” can be a death sentence for your love-life. At best, you end up stuck with someone who doesn’t deserve you, at worst, you end up in an abusive relationship that’s nearly impossible to escape.

Make a change: A skill that is extremely difficult to master, but incredibly useful is the ability to observe from a third-party perspective. In other words, being able to look at your relationship as if you were a stranger on the street. Next time you’re about to say “yes” when your gut is telling you “no,” take a step and assess the situation from a new perspective. If you were a stranger looking at this relationship, what would you think? What kind of advice would you give yourself if you were in someone else’s shoes? Of course, no one knows your relationship better than you, that being said, if you stand too close to a painting, it’s impossible to see the entire picture. An alternative perspective can change how you see everything, in art and relationships.

Practice makes perfect

At the end of the day, you’re going to say “yes” to a lot of things, and honestly, it’d be pretty weird if you didn’t. “Yes” plays a crucial role in our lives. “Yes” means trying new things, taking risks and being a positive influence on society. “Yes” only becomes dangerous when you start defaulting to it as your go-to answer for everything. Becoming comfortable with “no” isn’t about being negative or antagonistic; it’s about knowing when to put your foot down and having the guts to do it when the time comes. We can all use a little more “no” in our lives, how much is up to you.

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