We believe that we always have to say yes to opportunities. We fear that saying no leads us to miss out on money, fun, and other experiences. But by always saying yes, we don’t value our time.
Blindly we say yes to everything that comes our way. We often don’t look at saying “no” as a skill. If we are at work and our manager asks you to hand in a report before the end of the day, we say, “sure thing.” It interrupts our work, and we often have to push other things aside.
There was never any fear for me, no fear of failure. If I miss a shot, so what?
– Michael Jordan
We say yes in our personal lives all the time. When friends ask us to go out while we have other things to do, we say yes. We friends or acquaintances a favor, without thinking about it. We even say yes to bigger things that we don’t want. We take jobs we don’t like. We start relationships with people who we are not in love with.
Why do we do this? We are afraid to say no, to let people down, to avoid confrontation. The stress of saying no often makes us say yes automatically. And then we complain or blame ourselves, “why couldn’t I just say no.” And with relationships, we are afraid that if we turn down an opportunity to settle down, another one maybe won’t show up.
I see this often with relationships at work. You spend time with a person at work so often and if you feel physically attracted to each other it easy to start a relationship. If you start a relationship, you cannot ‘kind of’ want it. No, you should be in love. Saying yes doesn’t always make you happy.
Other People’s Expectations
Learning to say no can save us a lot of time and stress. While we are afraid that we have to let people down, the opposite is true. People will start respecting you more when you start saying no. People perceive that as a strong character trait.
It’s time to stop doing things to live up to other people’s expectations. You don’t have to do things you don’t like. If you don’t start saying no, and keep doing things you don’t want to do, you begin to dislike the person you are trying to please. Saying no is not only for your benefit but actually by saying no, you are thinking about other people as well.
If you say yes to a night out with your spouse and you don’t feel like it, you probably won’t be in a great mood. It’s not fair for your spouse if you are not present mentally. If you rather go out the next day because you are tired tonight, say so. Your partner will respect you for that. If she doesn’t, we have to explain why we say no. And encourage them to say no when they don’t want to do something as well.
Conforming to other people expectations can impact your life’s outcome. When you say yes to one night out, when you don’t feel like it, doesn’t have huge life consequences. But sometimes it is about choices that will influence our life outcome. When parents expect their children to go to university, the children often give into that.
We are all unique and have things we want from life, asking people to do something they don’t like is not fair. If you don’t wish to go to university because of a good reason, then don’t. We have to follow our passion and make our own path.
Say No To Noise
We should say no to everything that is noise. Greg Mckeown, writes in his book Essentialism about how the ‘disciplined pursuit of less’ allows us to regain control over our choices. Mckeown says that many successful people in history were ‘essentialist’, people who can separate the essential from the non-essential in life. Saying no is a way of showing what you consider ‘essential’ by saying no to everything that is noise.
About the importance of saying no, Mckeown says, “ yet as hard as it can be to say no to someone, failing to do so can cause us to miss out on something far more important.” When we have a purpose in life, everything that doesn’t contribute to our purpose, becomes noise.
When we want to live a stress-free life, we have to choose “no”. Saying blindly yes to invitations from our colleagues, friends or family causes us stress. We often regret saying yes for days. We worry about damaging our relationships. We worry that we burn bridges. We worry about what people would think if we say no. We live in an abundant world. By saying no you don’t miss anything. The world is filled with opportunity and beauty.
We think we are not good friends or colleagues when we say no. You’re not a bad person when you say no. Once we start saying no, we lose the fear of disappointing people and find out that it wasn’t that hard. We find that we replace the noise with silence and clarity. We enjoy the things we do say yes to more. We become more present and happy.
Previously published on dariusforoux.com and is republished here under permission.
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