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Saying Yes to Yourself, Instead of Saying No to Others

Instead of worrying about saying “no” to others, consider how you might say “yes” to yourself. It’s a subtle shift, but a powerful one. Pursuing this philosophy can make a big difference towards living a more joyful and authentic life.

Saying “no” to others can feel bad or negative. Saying “yes” to yourself can feel renewing, energizing, and affirming.

Often when we refuse another’s request we feel guilty or unsupportive. This happens even if the request is not entirely reasonable. This sets up a negative pattern of agreeing to things that might be uncomfortable or inconvenient. And when we take on things that we shouldn’t, we tend to feel bad, so our attempt to avoid these feelings doesn’t end up working anyway. After all, is exhaustion or resentment any better than feeling guilty or unsupportive?

How can we release ourselves from this pattern and begin saying “yes” to ourselves instead of “no” to others? Try some of the methods below:

  • Be proactive. Structure your schedule in a way that best suits your needs and responsibilities. Let people know that you need to fulfill the items on your agenda before you can make any other commitments. This is a way to say “yes” to yourself in the form of honoring your schedule–rather than feeling anxious about how you might say “no” to spontaneous requests.
  • Do your own stuff first. If you are facing multiple demands in a day or a week, complete your own tasks first and then tackle things for others. This not only helps you fulfill your commitments, but also better ensures that you will have time, energy, and space for others in the long run.
  • Choose wisely. Respect time for the limited quantity that it is and do only those things that seem reasonable. Ask yourself if the task is something you that fits your values, if it’s realistic given your other duties, and/or if it even needs to be done at all. If the answer is no to any of these questions, there are probably other things you could say yes to that are more worthy of your time and effort.
  • Pause before getting started. Did anyone ask you specifically or directly to help or are you taking care of things out of habit? Release the compulsion to manage everything. Who knows, you may inadvertently be blocking others’ participation!
  • Think big picture. What are your goals? Does doing this or that task for others help you achieve your goals or impede your progress? If it’s the latter, re-prioritize in order to let go of those things that are keeping your attention away from realizing your objectives.

Self-Discovery Tool 49
Try out the strategies above (or use them as an inspiration to create your own) and begin saying “yes” to yourself. By doing so, saying “no” to others will become less and less of an issue – your life will be set up in such a way that unreasonable demands simply will not have a place. How exciting is that?!

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