I’ve been a believer of the “Yes Man” philosophy for a long time now. In short, a Yes Man is someone who never turns down an opportunity, often to win the favor of someone else. (It was exacerbated in a film that stars Jim Carrey, where he challenges himself to say yes to everything for an entire year. But of course, I have my own version inside my head. Check it out if you haven’t yet!) I’ve learned to say yes to almost every opportunity that has ever come my way, and at the same time, I’ve said yes to almost every favor that’s been asked of me. That attitude has brought me to different places, has introduced me to so many people, and has given me so much to experience. I’m that person. I’m the real-life, non-literal, yes man.
That same attitude, however, has turned me into a person who couldn’t deal with confrontation, or at the very least, saying the word, “no.” I became a people-pleaser, a worshipper of approval. The very feeling of disappointing someone, or not being able to do enough to help, upsets me. And most times, I’d go out of my way — extremely out of my way — just to avoid that feeling. It’s like a pre-installed automated guilt machine that turns on with every unanswered inquiry, unaccomplished favor, and missed opportunity. Yeah, it’s exactly that.
To myself, and to “the people who can’t say no”: Stop worrying. Stop trying to carry the burden of everyone around you because, truth be told, it’s not yours to carry. Stop constantly looking for a way to satisfy all of your critics. Stop blaming yourself for all the wrong things. Stop telling yourself that you owe everything to everyone. Stop saying yes to every favor, stop saying yes to every responsibility. Stop convincing yourself that “there’s something you could’ve done better.”
Say no when it feels right. Say no when you’d rather mind your problems than deal with theirs. Say no when you have too much on your plate. Say no when you feel like doing something else. Say no, once in a while, when you’re too happy to care. Say no when you’re too goddamn busy. Say no when you have to. Say no when you want to. Say no because you can. And remember that — no matter what your pre-installed automated guilt machine tells you — it’s perfectly okay.