about Sharon's hypnotherapy & a sample of
coaching articles by Sharon published on the Mind
‘Why Can I Never Say NO?'
How many times do you find yourself
pushed to breaking point with deadlines, ‘to-do’
lists, your own expectations and desires, and
then someone comes along and asks a ‘little favour’.
And what do you say? “No, Sorry, I’m too busy
at the moment” or “OK, I’ll see what I can do
If, like me, you use the second response more
times than you care to remember, we have to ask
ourselves: “Why on earth do we DO IT??”
By saying “yes” when it really doesn’t suit, what
are you telling the world? – Or, to put it more
pointedly, what do you THINK you’re telling the
Exercise: Take a moment to think about
the times when you’ve said “yes” to a project
or task, when really you’ve meant “no”. And write
down the signals you hoped you were sending out
to the world.
The “Yes” Trap
Do you fall into the “yes” trap because you want
people to know:
1. You’re super-efficient
2. You’re reliable and dependable
3. You’re indispensable
4. You’re a go-getter and high achiever
5. You’re hard-working and therefore worthy of
your salary or the salary you’re working towards
ever stopped to wonder why you do
the things you do?
you ever noticed the little voice
inside your head that seems to be
on a constant loop?
Is it possible
you have created a certain impression
of someone or some situation based
on other people’s thoughts and beliefs
rather than on your own?
many times have you said “yes”,
when really you wanted to say “no”?
do you use that could be holding
your life so busy that you have
forgotten to listen to your inner
you do today to improve one aspect
of your life?
of these reasons will probably resonate. But,
when you say “yes”, is that how people really
perceive you? Or do they perhaps see you just
as a sure way of getting something done with the
minimum of fuss and negotiation?
Exercise: Now take a moment to think about
how you feel when you say “yes” but really want
to say “no”. I’m guessing that there’s at least
as much negative feeling as positive.
By saying “yes” what are you subconsciously telling
yourself? Perhaps that:
6. You don’t value
your own time
7. You don’t value your own goals and needs
8. You’re an easy option with no boundaries in
9. You don’t respect yourself, so why should anyone
While there is much debate in both philosophy
and psychology as to whether or not (and to what
extent) we create our reality, there is little
doubt that we create our experience of reality
when we represent things in our mind: If we think
that by saying “yes” we will be that super-efficient,
reliable, indispensable, go-getting person (points
1-5 above), then we will continue to say “yes”.
Even when common sense (and probably all our well-meaning
friends) will tell us otherwise.
Learning to Choose “No”
The most important choice each of us has in life
is to choose our priorities. What you do, and
the outcome you achieve, is a direct result of
the choices you make and the priorities you give
to every task and project you encounter.
If saying “yes” leaves you feeling frustrated
and stressed, annoyed with yourself, and feeling,
deep down, more like a person described by points
6-9 above, then perhaps you’re putting your priorities
in the wrong place.
Try choosing “no” more often: When “no” is the
right answer for you, say it politely, assertively
and with conviction. See how much better that
can make you feel.
The moment you recognize your needs and priorities,
and find a better way to meet them, you’ll find
better peace of mind, and life will change for
Exercise: Now think again about the times
you’ve said “yes”, when really you wanted to say
“no”. Practice saying “no” politely and firmly.
Remember, when “no” is the right answer, you’re
not making excuses; A brief and honest explanation
of your reasons should suffice.
“No” is hard for many of people to say. We all
like to feel appreciated and useful to others.
But it’s often far better to say “no” and concentrate
on a few great wins, than to say “yes” after “yes”
after “yes” and deliver poor results on the things
that matter most.
Either you’ll do it voluntarily and deliberately,
or you’ll do it when you collapse with a nervous
breakdown. You owe it to yourself to take control
of your own life and make the hard choices now,
when they may be uncomfortable but at least they
are do-able. Take heed of the wise words of Stever
Robbins, leadership and efficiency expert: “Something’s
got to give. Don’t let it be you.”
© Mind Tools 2006