Before you say yes

The Self Care Coach

It’s easier to say “yes” than no. We’re taught from a young age to say yes is better than to say no.  Our workplace demands it.  Our self-help gurus demand we open ourselves up to the endless possibilities of yes and we feel like we’ve failed somehow for even thinking no.

We sign up to goals and then feel we’ve committed so far so we should continue.  We owe it to the hard work, the effort we’ve put in. We have a reputation to protect.  Parents and partners to please and support.

But, before you say yes – to a goal, to a dream, to a task, to an invitation ask yourself these questions.

When you say yes to something, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.

Photograph by Jake Melara via Unsplash

“It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on important things – Steve Jobs

Am I saying no to myself in this?

It’s so easy to keep putting yourself to the bottom of the pile.  Saying you’ll catch up on sleep tomorrow.  You’ll eat later.  You’ll find time to spend with your loved ones at the weekend.  You’ll make it up somehow.  Our etiquette says yes often before we truly acknowledge what we’re saying no to as a result.  You can’t give from an empty well, you need to be at the top of the list sometimes too.

Does this make me come alive?  

So many of us get caught up in “shoulds”.  I should attend that birthday as she is a good friend.  I should go to the gym today as I haven’t been in ages.  I should go after that big promotion as I’ve come this far.  I should commit to this path as I said I would.

Frankly – if it doesn’t make your heart sing and you feel like you’re doing it for anyone or anything else other than you – say no.

Does this expand me?  Free me?  Help me to grow?

It might be a little bit scary, but that’s where you’ll expand.  You might feel you don’t know enough, but that’s where the journey begins. But somewhere in amongst the “shit, can I really do this?” moments, you know that you simply have to.  That somewhere your spirit is singing and enjoying the opportunity to expand and progress.

Do I have to do this right now?

Everything seems to be urgent these days and like it has to be done right this very second.  Ask yourself, really ask yourself, what would happen if you said no or if it waited until there was more space, more time, more energy?  Often, the consequences are small and the gain is huge.  It’s a great question to ask.

Does it serve a purpose?

It seems so obvious to ask this question but time and again I see my clients struggling to commit to something because ultimately if they are honest with themselves, they’re doing things that don’t make them happy or don’t serve any purpose.  They find it a struggle.  They find it hard to concentrate and commit.

If it doesn’t serve you, your goals, your dreams, your necessities – then consider why you’re investing energy by saying yes.

What “no” in your life is longing to be said – share it with me in the comments!

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  1. Linda Anderson

    Brilliant questions, Mel, and a theme that really resonates with me.

    I’ve learned the hard way that consistently saying ‘no’ to me because I ‘should’ say yes, or because I want to please other people, is a recipe for burnout and ultimately helps no-one.

    These days I ask myself the question ‘Does this feel like fun for me, does it help me expand and grow?’ If it turns out to be a ‘should’ or an ‘I’ve got to …’ rather than an ‘I get to …’, then the answer is always no.

    Still have to be vigilant though because, like most people, under stress I revert to default patterns 😉

    • Mel Noakes

      Linda what a brilliant method you have to sanity check this – I love that you ask yourself a key question! And yes, vigilance is key as old habits die hard as the saying goes but the more you practice saying yes to yourself, the easier it becomes! Thanks for sharing x


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