Monday, June 18, 2007

Yes and You

I was thinking today about two simple words, Yes and No. We learn what they mean and how to say them very early on in life. And we learn that simple words can have a great deal of power. Saying "yes" to a request can bring a smile, while a "no" can bring disappointment. If you love to please, as many women do, we begin to feel very comfortable with yes, and not so at ease with no. It is an easy way to work our way into the favor of others. "Yes." "I can do that." "Sure. I'll help with that." Have kids, and the opportunities to say "yes" multiply dramatically. Not just with your kids, but with school, and activities, and friends. Without much thought, we can "yes" ourselves into exhaustion and oblivion.

Each time we say "yes" to someone else's request, we may well be saying "no" to ourselves. "No" to the time to pursue something important to us. "No" to five minutes to put our feet up, close our eyes and just be. "No" to whatever it is that we might be doing if we hadn't committed ourselves to another's agenda.

Now before I sound all self-centered and selfish, let me say I am all for volunteering time and effort. But, I have also learned to do it with consciousness. Make a choice to help when and where it really matters to you as well as to the person who is asking for your help. Are you bringing something of yourself, and your special talents to what you are giving? Or are you just another body filling in the space?

I am advocating saying "Yes" to yourself. Sometimes that means saying "no" to others. It is hard and scary to do if you are used to saying yes to any and all requests that come your way that you are physically able to do. But all those "yes's" can be exhausting.

You may find yourself working on that "simple, little project" one evening, while the rest of your family watches a video. You may feel the resentment starting to creep up, saying to yourself, "they won't even appreciate this." "Why am I doing this?" This is a clear sign that the word "no" needs way more exercise in your vocabulary. Or you may find yourself with a full calendar, and the constant complaint that you would love to do "whatever" but you just don't have the time. Saying no to the requests that someone else could just as easily do could mean a chance to say "yes" to spending an evening painting, reading, writing, or meeting a friend for an overdue lunch together.

If you are a Yes-aholic, catch yourself the next time you find yourself ready to let that word glide off your lips with such ease. Pause for a second and actually think about what you are agreeing to. Ask yourself a few questions.

Do I want to do this?

Could someone else just as easily do this?

Why am I doing this?

You may still say "yes", but you will have thought about it first. And when you do say "no", you might just see the world does not stop. The special activities do not cease, or if they do, perhaps there just was not enough interest to sustain it.

Say yes to others when you know that you want to do whatever it might be. But embrace the idea of saying yes to youself too. A "yes" to your dreams. A "yes" to your wishes. A "yes" to some time for You. You are worth it.


HMBT said...

Great Post. Hi my name is Heatehr and I am 5 years from my last "yes".
I talk about this subject with my clients all the time...I call it the Yes disease.

Judy said...

Thabks for the comment Heather. It can be a long slow journey from that reflexive "yes", can't it. But once you start to appreciate the shift in your life from not always saying yes to every request, it reinforces the new way of being.