Louise Thompson: Yes-itis

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There is a dangerous misconception that if you say no it means something bad about you. Photo / Getty Images
There is a dangerous misconception that if you say no it means something bad about you. Photo / Getty Images

Have you got a recurring bout of yes-itis? It's very common. You should definitely check. Symptoms include saying "sure I can do that for you" when you want to do it like you want a hole in the head. Can result in a persistent case of burning resentment, with a nasty sensation of burnout and sense of humour failure. May also cause own dreams to be amputated. Can be easily spotted by observing clenched jaws spitting out "I'm fine".

Creating a balance that works for us individually on what we say yes to and what we say no to is important. Too much no, and we are likely to find we have few friends and few fun times as we are so rigid there is little room for pleasure, sharing and spontaneity. Too much yes and our whole agenda will be set by others as we become people-pleasing machines losing sight of our own guidance and goals.

Your yes and your no are YOUR boundaries; where you stand up for you. Where you speak up for you. Where you show up for you. The common confusion is that other people should magically and mysteriously know what these boundaries are without us voicing them.

That's a recipe for disaster. It's actually OUR job, not someone else's, to set or verbalise the boundaries on how we spend our time, our energy, our attention. That's ours, and ours alone.

There is a dangerous misconception that if you say NO it means something BAD about you. It means you are not a nice person. Or not a loving person. Or a not helpful person. Or whatever. Actually it doesn't have to mean anything about you as a person. You can choose to drop that fear of judgment that's keeping you trapped in a circle of yes-itis. It's just a SITUATION you are saying no to. It's totally okay. It's a judgment call about the situation, it's not about defining who you are as a person.

If you are finding you are feeling resentful or taken for granted, that is a huge sign. It's a sign that you should be looking at your yes/no boundaries and how and when you verbalise them. There can be a perception, especially for women, that "no" is a sort of dirty word. Actually it's a very powerful part of our vocabulary. It's how we verbally show up for ourselves.

Fear of judgment from others keeps us trapped in a pattern of undiscerning yes-itis. Trapped by the assumption of conflict that never comes, and a worry of disapproval that is never made real, we can become people-pleasing machines running on low-grade resentment.

Know this: You can be a good person, with a loving heart, and still stay no to stuff. It's okay. It's your time, your energy, your attention. You DO get to decide where it goes. If you don't say no to some things you don't create enough room and space in your life to have a balance of the things you genuinely want to say yes to. Your no is what carves out the space for your yes. It's an essential and powerful way you put into your life what you want. Being an undiscerning yes machine is hugely overrated. Take your power back with a couple of strong "NO"s and feel resentment evaporate.

• Through her online Happiness programme “Wellbeing Warriors”, life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at louisethompson.com and find more from Louise at bite.co.nz/wellbeing.

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