We both often say “yes” when we really mean (or want to say) “no,” because of our shared people-pleasing tendencies. This is one of the fastest ways we get tangled in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™. When we find ourselves in the DDT, both of us tend to default to the Rescuing role because our strategy to deal with insecurity or fear is to please others.
Our nature is to make everything turn out well and create a smooth path in our relationships. We fool ourselves into thinking that pleasing and constantly saying “yes” to whatever arises will make each other happy.
One reason the word “no” is unappealing to many is because it is a form of rejection. We’re nice people so we don’t like rejecting something or each other. But we have learned the hard way that nurturing our inner Creator requires that we focus on what we care about, and less on making other people happy.
Here is the paradox we’ve learned: You are defined by what you reject as much as what you accept; by what you say “no” to, as much as what you say “yes” to.
If you reject something, you take a stand and open yourself to receive or focus on something else. If you can’t discern and say “no” to something, you then stand for nothing. And when you stand for nothing, you prevent your inner Creator from emerging.
The central role in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™ is being a Creator and that emerges when you take responsibility for clarifying what you want and then take steps to create it.
Saying “yes” when you really mean “no” deceives yourself and others. When you stay silent to what you truly want, you dampen your heart and passion and risk not recognizing what you love, let alone how to create it.
Your “no” acts as a healthy boundary for what you value and are willing to say “yes” to. If you are not willing to reject—-to say no—-your yes becomes watered down and ineffective. A professor in an executive program David used to manage often said: “If you can’t say ‘no,’ you’re ‘yes’ doesn’t mean much!”
From time-to-time we all say yes to things we would rather not do, either because of the value we put in the relationship or because of a necessity that may be present. It is when our primary strategy in life is to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own that we lose our sense of self and identity.
There is an irony in becoming a Creator. To be co-creators with others, you must first become a Creator in your own life. Saying “no” so your Creator can come alive, has never been more important given the unrelenting choices and demands on modern life.
Here are a few questions to ponder as you strengthen your “no” muscle:
- If you are reluctant to say “no,” what are you resisting?
- If you want to say “no” but feel pressured to say “yes,” what are you putting up with or sacrificing?
- What would support you to increase your courage to say “no”?
An intentional “no” is rooted in saying “yes” to your core interests and what truly matters to you. When your values and what you care about are murky, it is easy to get sucked into making others happy.
Putting limits on what you are willing to say yes to is liberating and brings a greater sense of happiness and empowerment. The little word “no” nurtures your inner Creator because your focus is no longer distracted, and you can now focus on what is truly important to you.