BLOG POST: 4 Things to Do Before You Say “Yes” to Everyone

A question I’m often asked is, “How do I stop saying YES to everyone? 


Whether you are used to bending over backwards to family members, employers or clients, I call this an unhealthy “Yes Complex.” Do you suffer from this? (That used to be me!) 


The problem with having a “Yes Complex” is that it causes stress and overwhelm.Taking on too much will cause you to feel imbalanced. Maybe you become grumpy and snappy. You become resentful towards others who are taking up so much of your time and energy. 


I am reminded of a client who came to a session wondering how to balance all the things that she was being asked to do (and knew that she “could” do) with all the things that she “wanted” to do, that were actually aligned with her values and purpose. Too often, she found herself saying “yes” and wanted to avoid this. As a coach, she knew that her intuitive self could help her make good choices for her business, but she wasn’t sure exactly how. Through gentle guidance and reframing, I helped her do this by creating a space where she could explore before committing either way to her decisions. 


If I were sitting with you for a session I could show you how I do this. For now, here are 4 Things to Do Before You Say “Yes”:


  1. Acknowledge the problem. The first thing you need to do to stop saying yes, is acknowledge that this is a problem for you. See that it’s coming from you, that you are allowing it to happen. As long as you point the blame towards others, the problem will continue. So start by taking responsibility for where you are. This may sound simple and elementary, but not everyone does this… and those who do -- sometimes forget! (I know!) 


  1. Have compassion on yourself. Realize that it’s not your fault. Societal conditioning teaches us as women to be in a constant role of taking care of others. Decades of putting others first takes effort and guidance to unravel. So don’t beat yourself up… be gentle with yourself about this. 


  1. Create space for yourself. Now it’s time to put mental and emotional distance between you and others. You can actually do this by stalling. Don’t worry, you’re not being “weak”. You’re just protecting your energy. That’s a good thing!  Responding to a request with, “Not at this time,” “let me think about it” or “I’ll get back to you” will create a buffer so that you can get ready for the next step...


  1. Recognize your boundaries. Now that you’ve had a chance to consider the other person’s request, tune into your intuition and test it out. Imagine it’s a yes. What do you feel? Do you feel expansive or constrictive? Does it give you energy or drain you? This process will help you determine whether or not saying “yes” will benefit you in the long run. If you say “yes” when you really mean “no”, then you will be giving your power away energetically, leaving you vulnerable to the next “yes” that you don’t really want to say. 


So, those are the four things you need to do before you say “Yes”. If it’s a “No”, then read on: 


  1. Articulate a clear “no”. Of course you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Don’t worry… as long as you’re not deliberately hurting the other person, which I know you are not doing, you can let others be responsible for their own feelings - that’s their job, not yours. 


  1. Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back that you are able to say “no” when you mean it! 


When you take these steps, you will be more truthful with yourself and your limitations. You’ll get your energy back, restore your confidence and become more empowered. People will see you differently and begin to treat you with more respect. They will also have an opportunity to figure things out for themselves, which empowers them as well. I encourage you to follow these steps and let me know how it goes.