By: Rachael Stewart
How many of you have seen the movie "Yes Man"? If you haven't, the whole idea of the movie is that the main character says no to everything and is missing out on life and soon he finds himself having to say yes to everything. At first, his life becomes incredibly better, but soon he finds that this yes lifestyle is hard to keep up with and doesn't always bring a happy life.
So many of us think that if we say yes to everything, that means we are not letting opportunities pass us by and we are grabbing the bull by the horns. I can say this confidently, because I have been there myself. In fact, I still am there. I know what it is like to feel like you always have to say yes for fear of missing out, fear of disappointing, fear of judgment, and so many other reasons. I was and still am what some people would call a "pushover".
Have you ever been called a pushover? If you are like me, you get called that all the time. When someone calls me that at first, it stings and makes me frustrated because I want to proudly say that I am not a pushover. I want to believe I can stand up for myself and believe I am independent, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it is true, and the more I realize it needs to change.
I am what many would call a people pleaser. My every move is to make others happy or to make myself likeable or desirable. I don't like the feeling of being disliked or being considered disagreeable, so I do everything I can to avoid any confrontation or upset. I am a yes man. I know many of you are yes men as well. Telling someone no causes you so much anxiety, unneeded stress, and worry. When people say "just say no", it makes no sense how they act like it is such a simple thing to do. The thing is, although we feel this fear when we have to say no, it really is a simple thing, and it is something that we need to learn how to do.
The word no has been given such a negative connotation. No is rejection. No is denial. No is the end of possibility. No doesn't have to mean those things. I believe no could be a game changer, a freedom bringer, a door opener. No is good and we need it.
I see so many people, including myself, take on so many tasks, trying to please everyone. The responsibilities they have taken on eventually become so overwhelming that in the end, they can't please anyone because they can't give the time and effort needed for each task. If we stop trying to play superman and start saying no when the workload is too much, we can avoid so much unnecessary struggle and frustration.
Maybe it isn't a task, but a person. Maybe there is that friend, or significant other, or parent who is controlling, or draining, or leading you down the wrong path. We are so caught up in their approval, company, or happiness that when they are doing things that hurt us, we let it continue because we feel we need them or that if we tell them no, they won't love us anymore. Friends, that is the worst thing we can do. In this situation, no is power and no is freedom. When we learn how to say no to those who are hurting us, we gain our lives back and we take a stand for our well being and happiness. It is not selfish to look out for your well being, it is necessary.
Finally, we live in a world that preaches acceptance, but doesn't always practice it. The world will tell us we are not good enough and that we need to change. It will tell us that we are not loved and that we need to fit a perfect mold to be loved. Friends, you are beautiful and loved as you are. Embrace your diversity and the great things you bring, and tell the world no. Tell the world that you will not listen to it anymore and that your worth does not come from its acceptance or approval.
No is good. No is freeing. No is necessary. We need to learn to embrace no and use it to help us grow and to help us live the life that we want, not the life that others want us to live.
Photography by Matthias Witteman