Do You Tend to Say “Yes” When You Really Want to Say “No”?

Photo by Ikhsan Sugiarto

So many of us find it difficult to be authentic when dealing with others whom we are either trying to impress, or we don’t want to hurt. We readily consent to things we are not happy about, without really recognising the eventual consequences to us. 

So why do we do it?

The two main reasons why we might say ‘Yes’ when we want to say ‘No’ are a lack of confidence and a desire for approval.

When we lack confidence we are deprived of the willpower to be assertive, to be consistent and to actually seek what we want because we fear the consequences of what saying ‘No’ might bring. We don’t want to ‘hurt’ or ‘upset’ anyone, so we hurt ourselves instead. We are not strong enough to stand up for our own rights and thus allow others to dictate the pace, regardless of how unhappy or uncomfortable we might feel.

We also lack the skills to deal with someone who might be more socially adept, or someone we fear, we respect or admire; one who has higher status or influence over us. Hence we are more willing to say ‘Yes’ for a quiet life, even when we instinctively feel that response is wrong. It might please other people, but it is likely to leave us feeling frustrated and dissatisfied with our lives. While saying ‘Yes’ might make someone else happy, if we are yearning to say ‘No’, we do ourselves no service and create a lot of stress and confusion in the process.

Controlling environments
The second reason, a desire for approval, stems from being in controlling environments: either with parents, spouses and even bosses, where one feels a kind of emotional pressure to conform or toe the line. Wherever there is control, there is a desire to please through fear and repression. As we are likely to be expected to do as we are told, the only way we can feel included and valued is by pleasing the significant others around us. That might work for that particular moment in time, or for that situation, but it really keeps us feeling inadequate and unhappy with ourselves. Worse still, it makes us even less empowered each time we go against our own needs and desires.

Every decision we make carries a responsibility to face the consequences of that decision. Only by facing the consequences of our actions can we say what we mean and stick by it, and feel better for it, too. However, the more we seek approval by simply pleasing others the less fulfilled we will feel, and the more frustrating life will appear to be. Most important, we soon lose our own integrity because it is difficult to be honest with others when we are not even being honest with ourselves.

So, do you?

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