How do you feel--- and why?

I have been listening to a podcast about  people’s tendency to say yes when they mean no. The thrust of the item was to say that we need to learn to say no sometimes.


When we are young we tend to trust, to be compliant and over time that becomes our default behaviour because that is the way we have learned to be.  There is no need to change that but there is a need to  be aware that that is how we work because there will be occasions when, as adults, we feel put upon and we then need to understand why we feel as we do.











Perhaps an example will help. Imagine it is a busy day, you have plenty to do but someone that you know unexpectedly asks you to do something for them. Not an emergency situation, perhaps you do not even view it a urgent even though that is the way it is presented to you.  What do you do?


In all probability you will try to accommodate their request, you will put what you are doing on hold. Part of you may feel that it is good that the person chose you to ask for help. You may feel that this proves they value and trust you.

In fact those are thoughts that you have generated--- they may or may not be correct, that’s not really the point. What I am trying to do is to help you understand why you feel a certain way  at a particular time because that will help you deal more effectively with various social situations.


To make this still clearer think about how you would feel if you refused a request. Would you feel mean, not a good “friend”, that you were letting someone down? Would you feel less nice? Would you worry that the other person would now have a lesser opinion of you?


If you think about it those are your thoughts, your imagination of what others think. You are creating a stressful situation within your personal world—the person who asked is off looking for someone else to do their bidding—they might be feeling guilty that they asked you, they may be feeling embarrassed that they needed to ask someone else to do what was really their task--- but again that is their thoughts and their stress.

Simply saying no is not a bad or wrong thing especially if saying yes would have stopped or delayed you doing what you needed to be doing. Consider this: if you say no and the person asking then completes the task themselves they get a sense of accomplishment, they perhaps recognise that they knew how to do the task or that they had the time to fit it in when they thought they could not. In that scenario saying no has be a positive beneficial thing to both of you ---One has accomplish their objective and the other has not been burdened with additional tasks.

By this point, hopefully you feel differently about saying no--- different than you did at the start of this article.

So why are you feeling different? Simply because you are thinkig about the point in a different way. For every thought there are options but so often we only run on automatic responses, we say yes without thinking brecause our subconscious instantly refers back to earlier times and picks an off the shelf response. What we need to do is to build in a tiny bridge where we get the request and have the split second to notice that there are many potential responses and that we can quickly choose  the right one for this occasion.


I expect you are now thinking that  this will slow you down—the brain works so much faster than the mouth--- in the time you take to say something  probably a 100 times more information related to the statement has been processed by your brain. So simply being aware that there are  many options flicks a switch that assesses the options and produces the appropriate one. In effect this will save time because you are doing the right thing in the current circumstance—that  other automatic response might have then produced feelings of “ Why did I say yes, I don’t have time for this, why did they ask me, I don’t want to do this” all of which are time consuming and stress building

Being aware builds efficiency, reduces or even prevents stress and allows you to  know how you feel and why.


1234© Martin Williams 2015