“When you say yes to others make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” – Paulo Coehlo

Have you ever chewed a wasp?

No way, you may say. You’d remember that.

But I bet you have.

You see, it’s a great expression my friend uses when she’s quietly grumbling and grinding her tooth enamel. When she feels life has stung her and spat her peace of mind out onto the floor.

I’m sure you know how that feels all too well. That feeling when you meant to say ‘no’, but ended up saying ‘yes’ for instance.

And when that ‘yes’ ended up robbing you of precious time you could have spent with your partner and your kids. Time you could have spent with your family and your friends. Time you could have spent with yourself and your passions

Time you’ll never recapture. Experiences you–and –will never know.

And the resentment swarms around the inside of your head like an angry wasp, destroying your peace of mind.

I used to chew a lot of wasps. In fact, I think they were hornets. I used to believe that putting me and my needs last to avoid conflict and guilt was what all nice girls did.

People pleasing became a habit and manifested in more than a few ways such as:

Agreeing to stay late at work again.
Having the in-laws stay over the whole holidays.
Helping out a friend even though you promised yourself some precious downtime.

Ironically, by trying to avoid conflict, I actually created it it by going against my own desires. And in the long term, internal conflict stings more than external conflict ever does.

Here’s what happens if you put your needs last and everybody else’s first and always say ‘yes’, when you really mean ‘no’.

The Hidden Cost Of Saying ‘Yes’.

1. You lose self-respect.

Every time you say, “Yes, okay” when you mean “No, I don’t want to”, your own desires are being steamrollered by what someone else wants. But your desires don’t go away just because you push them to the back of the queue.

You likely feel resentful. You’ll feel someone is taking advantage of you. It doesn’t feel good to be used, right?

And the real killer of your self-respect is the realization that there is manipulation going on.

But wait, it’s not necessarily them doing the manipulating.

You see by always saying ‘yes’ you inadvertently set the rules for the way you should be treated–simply by the way you treat them. By always meeting their requests, you’ve said “Hey, that’s absolutely okay, go ahead – keep asking!”

In fact, consciously or not, you’re often the one doing the manipulating.

That’s a hard wasp to swallow, huh?

2. You lose other people’s respect.

It may be subconscious, but over time others begin to stop thinking about your feelings, wishes, and even your rights.


Because you’ve never given them any reason to consider these. By saying ‘yes’ repeatedly you’ve created an association with what they want, not with what you want.

And that link grows ever stronger with each ‘yes’ you give them.

3. You lose trust.

All of those ‘yeses’ you said sounded genuine enough, wouldn’t you say? You certainly tried not to begrudgingly agree. You aimed to smile, not grind your teeth.

But however hard you try, hiding what you think isn’t telling the truth. And as human beings, we hear alarm sirens when we sense that someone is being in any way false.

It’s harsh because you’ve said ‘yes’ to be helpful, to be considerate, maybe even to flatter their ego. However the message they received is something altogether different. They know something doesn’t smell right, and they soon lose trust in you.

And the reality is, it’s often well-founded.

You see when you’re a serial people-pleaser, juggling all those yeses in the air, you’re bound to drop one… and then another. You’re so overstretched, so overwhelmed that eventually you let them down.

And because up until now you’ve proved so reliable, they’ve learned that they can ask you to do stuff that’s super important to them. So when you do eventually fail to live up to your ‘yesses’, you let them down hard.

And the trust they had in you dies right there.

4. You lose time to do the things you love.

Your to-do list is close to impossible, but that’s seriously old news, I know. The things you love to do can take a hike because there are no minutes, let alone hours, left. Your hobbies, your passions, all your just-for-fun activities, they’re never going to feature.

If you’re going to keep on saying ‘yes’ to every request, the kindest thing is to say goodbye to them on last time and dump them in the trash can.

5. You become less lovable in your mind.

There are some great people whose admiration and respect you’d love to have. You see how they’re standing up for what’s important to them. You want them to see how similar you are really, how great you could get on.

Yet they seem distant, uninterested in becoming close.

And that totally eats away at how likable and lovable you feel.

You see, if you keep hiding under all those ‘yeses’, how can they possibly know, and like, the real you?

6. You lose self-confidence & others lose confidence in you.

Saying what you think others want to hear seems a nice way to make them feel good. In theory it should also help to eliminate conflict. No one wants to be seen upsetting people and causing conflict, do they? That’s just a breeding ground for guilt.

It’s a mean trick of life though that it doesn’t actually work out that way.

The truth is often when people confide in you, they’re silently asking for your advice. If you’re just nodding blindly and saying ‘yes’, most people pick up on that.

The upshot is they don’t really feel that much better. Or that much nearer a solution to their problem. So next time, they avoid you and confide in someone else.

Being confided in shows that someone trusts and respects you. And when they don’t, your self- confidence and inner peace take a tandem nosedive.

7. You hate the things you used to love.

Remember those things you use to enjoy? Somehow they now seem a chore, a grind. Saying ‘yes’ too often has tarnished the whole experience.

Maybe you used to bake or do graphic design because you have a flair that made it satisfying and fulfilling. But that flair became irresistible to others. They called on you each and every time.

Now you dread being asked. You wished you’d never offered. Ever.

And maybe it’s gone on so long you’re not even sure any more if people actually like what you do. Perhaps your efforts are just seen as something free and easy they don’t need to pay for.

And now you feel like never baking another cake or designing another poster. It’s sucked all the fun out of it.

8. You deny yourself the opportunity to do the right thing.

You’ve had good reason to forever say ‘yes’ so far because it’s been your failsafe against guilt. But when saying ‘yes’ means going against your principles you’re caught in the guilt grinder.

You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

That’s no place for your peace of mind to flourish.

The Hidden Pay-Off Of Saying ‘No’

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings

The reality is if you add up all the hidden costs of saying ‘yes’, you simply can’t afford it. Whereas, if you add up all the pay-offs of saying ‘no’, you simply can’t afford not to. Here’s what happens if you learn to say ‘no’…

1. Rather than lose, you gain respect.

In reality, people don’t like you because you agree with them. Think about it: the people you truly admire… are they the kind of people who tell you as it is? The kind of people who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions, to say ‘No’?

Of course they are.

And those people feel exactly the same. So next time the world tells you to say ‘yes’, ask yourself:

‘Do I like people who flatter and fawn? Or do I admire strong people who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions kindly but firmly?’

If you want to be liked and loved, stand up for yourself and the world will love you for it.

2. You gain the habit of no.

Like all habits, saying ‘no’ is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more it grows. And the easier it is to do those exercises. In this instance, to say ‘no’.

The reason most people never start to exercise their muscles is because they are unwilling to go through that short term pain for that long term gain.

Don’t be one of those people.

3. You need to say no less often.

As you learn how to say ‘no’ effectively, you’ll find that much of the complication that now ties you in anxious knots will evaporate. Your days will be simpler, your to-do list cleared of all the ‘yes’ jobs that forever piled up.

You’ll be able to breathe, to think. And to choose.

Because as your ‘no’ becomes more of a habit, people will ask you less and less unless it’s really important. They’ll see you as someone who has a life (and mind) of their own. As someone who understands that goodwill is an exchange.

4. You gain boundaries and stop being everything to everyone.

Forever saying ‘yes’ has trampled your boundaries into the dirt. The lines you see as unacceptable for others to cross are so blurred everyone’s confused. From where they’re standing it seems as though pretty much everything is okay.

Saying ‘no’ automatically redefines those boundaries. It says:

‘I’ve taken on all I want to.’

‘That’s not something I like to do.’

‘I have something that’s important to me that needs to come first.’

Politely and compassionately saying ‘no’, lets people know that you matter as a person. That you have a life to live, just as they do.

5. You stop being forever over-committed and regain balance.

Overwhelm and stress love people pleasers. People who just can’t say ‘no’. People who are forever taking on one more commitment, one more responsibility. ‘Balance’ in your life is nowhere to be seen.

The Statue Of Liberty herself would collapse under such an unbalanced load. Even she would need to balance out the ‘yesses’ with the ‘nos’, the compassion with the self-compassion.

Stop chewing wasps and find that balance again.

Imagine how it would feel. Go on, close your eyes…

Just picture how much more at ease you would be, how much more ‘me’ time you would have clawed back.

And how much less resentment and more peace of mind you’d have.

Who’d have thought that a two letter word could bring you such delicious, total and lasting relief?

Take heart. By learning to say that one small word you’ll feel lighter, brighter, more energized. You can step away from the constant stress and overwhelm.

You can regain your sense of control.

Say ‘no’ and live wasp-free.

Laura Tong

Laura Tong

Laura Tong is an Ambassador for the life-changing power of gratitude. Her writings regularly appear on Huffington Post and other top blogs. Why not take her fun and revealing quiz and find out Your Gratitude Score?

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