Forget “say yes more”, sometimes it’s about learning to say no

cup of coffee in home setting

In the last few years, “say yes more” has become a popular concept – the idea of having a positive outlook, seizing every opportunity, and not missing out.

It’s a great idea in theory, but the honest truth is that in reality, it often leads to us to exhaustion – burnt out from people-pleasing, with burnt out bank accounts to match.

There, I’ve said it. Saying no isn’t “cool”, and I almost feel bad writing this, because I don’t want to sound like a killjoy. But that’s kind of the problem, because none of us do. We don’t want to miss out, or let people down.

Even the thought of saying no to something, or someone, can fill us with guilt. National holidays, especially Christmas, can be the worst as we desperately try to scurry round seeing everyone, making sure no noses are put out of joint, and that we have days brimming with social engagements, ready to fill our social media with – no FOMO.

Sometimes we lose sleep, maybe develop a cold, the flu, or worse start to suffer mentally from being run down. We maybe ignore the fact that perhaps we can’t afford our lifestyle as we head out for another meal.

Recently, after debating in my head every approach I could take to be able to say yes, I’ve had to say no to a few things. And I’ve HATED it. I’m not pretending it’s easy – but it’s been completely necessary. And after psyching myself up, and feeling awful, the person or people in question have been completely and totally fine with it. To be fair, this is how good friends are, I shouldn’t really have been surprised.

Let’s be clear, saying no in the first place is utterly different from saying yes reluctantly and bailing at a later date – not cool. I’m not suggesting that it’s acceptable to let people down, or not support others when they need it. Friends and family mean the world, and spending time with them has to be one of the single biggest joys in life. This isn’t a blog about becoming recluses and sitting at home in our pants eating crisps; that sounds really depressing.

A “say yes” attitude can be really positive, if that means having an open mind, stepping out of our comfort zone now and then, and having new experiences. But a blindly “say yes to everything” approach can run us into the ground. I know it can feel so difficult to say no, but I’m realising more and more it’s a part of adult life I need to master. Please don’t beat yourself up when you feel like you can’t say yes, because no is totally okay.

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