Breaking the Generational ‘Yes’ Cycle
Saying Naw, Nope, Uh uh.
Is Hard AF for me.
Instead I’ll say: “Uhhhh, well….maybe…I think I could. Possibly…” Knowing damn well I don’t want to because I effectively have all my money and time planned out weeks in advance. And because people usually solicit from those categories; I always find myself in a bind. With my mouth saying Yes but my mind screaming…
The problem is there were no sacrifices that went unmade when it came to my mother and sisters giving me everything they could.
How could I justify saying no to them or anyone just because I didn’t want to do it or give it when they never said no unless they didn’t have it to give.
The women in my life are the epitome of selflessness so I naturally thought that this is what I should be like in all things. Because isn’t that what they teach you in the bible after all?
So what was wrong with me to have the itch to say no that I couldn’t scratch without feeling like a dirty person.
No one ever showed me a healthy balance of self-care and selflessness so I wandered through life saying Yes or giving bogus excuses because I desperately wanted to say no.
The message I was given was that you shared everything you had (except my mom’s chocolate World’s famous candy bar with the nuts in it that I ate that one time; it was NOT meant to be shared apparently, SORRY MOM!)
Time, money, attention, clothes, food… you name it, you share it.
Boss: Would you mind switching days off because of blah, blah, blah
Me: Sure! (even though I had planned to see my boyfriend out-of-town that weekend)
The message that I’ve uncomfortably stumbled upon after years of pulling my teeth to always say yes is that sometimes always saying yes or giving is not practical.
It certainly was not practical for me to give valuable resources like time and money while trying to get on my feet in my young adult life, to things I didn’t benefit from. It especially wasn’t practical in giving when I barely had or giving before I could enjoy it myself.
One thing I’ve realized is that in order to propel the next generation of my family forward I must break the cycle of saying yes without thought.
Saying yes or I’ll see (that turned into every best effort to provide it for each other) is the natural order of my family. I LOVE it. AND…I HATE it. I’m the oddball that felt compelled to say no in certain areas.
But here’s why I do it now without feeling like a shitty person…
My plate runneth over.
My schedule is actually more planned out than I get credit for. This includes working two jobs, blogging, grocery shopping, laundry, taking care of my kitten, remembering to feed myself and yes, down time.
Aka Adulting which is hard AF
I have no room to do X,Y and Z for LMNOP without cutting myself short in one of the above areas.
People assume because I don’t have kids or a husband that I have free time.
While I have more free time outside of others in this situation that doesn’t mean that it’s not importantly planned. Even if that plan includes catching up on sleep or writing my blog post. Often times it includes both of those things because I need to revive myself with some TLC before I can continue to conquer the world.
So yes, I may choose to spend a day or two with myself instead of driving home and spending my entire day off running after my adorable nieces and nephews.
I use to feel like an awful person, Auntie, and Sister for this until Christmas came around and I was able to get them what they really wanted due to my savings I worked hard for and thanks to time I spent rejuvenating between jobs.
Don’t misunderstand me, quality time has no price tag but I don’t have to feel bad for not spending all my free time like I use to.
Plus, one day I will have a family of my own so I want all the maximum ME time I can get before it’s stolen from me and replaced with the title of mother and wife.
Sis: Are you coming to visit on Friday? You’re off right?
Me: Naw. Imma just chill at home.
I don’t want to.
My friends (and boyfriend) tell me no all the time and I’m fascinated with the ease of how it rolls off their tongue.
“No, Krystal I am not going camping with you.”
“No Krystal I’m not showing you that.”
“No Krystal, I’m not eating that, it smells bad; what’s wrong with you?”
So now I think twice before just saying yes just to say it. I first ask myself, Do I really care or does this interest me?
Then, is this worth time/money? Do I have something I’d enjoy more? How will this effect the other things I need to do?
After asking myself these questions in the span of 2 seconds from the time my friend asked me to drive 2 hours to party with her; I can then say “No, but thanks for asking me.”
Without feeling like she or I are losing out on anything important.
Simply put, saying No frees up valuable space for a possible Yes to something better.
It’s all a balancing act.
The”Yes” constantly requires more work on my part
If I have to give up time, money or energy constantly by saying Yes to situations (or persons) in which I don’t benefit from at all; then I will reconsider that Yes and turn it into a firm NO from that point on.
I need a chance to grow and say Yes to my own life.
Years ago, months ago; I use to feel ashamed at how much stuff I felt compelled to say no to. It got to the point where me attempting to say no only resulted in a reluctant yes filled with animosity, anxiety, and self-hatred because I felt like I was a selfish person who didn’t deserve my loved ones.
Now that I’m months more mature (Ha) I realize that it is necessary for me to say no to certain things in order to place myself in a position to say Yes when it can be truly effective.
Niece: Will you buy me an Iphone?
Me: You got Iphone money? (Black mother/aunties way of saying no)
Niece: Will you help me get a car
Me: Yea, I got you. I’ve been saving up for this moment.
The hardest people to say no to is family. Personally, I often feel as though I owe them for any success I get due to their constant love and support. This is true. But in allowing myself to grow and climb before I “yes” them to death; I can actually build up something in which the Yes will change the course of our lives.
Financial liberation often comes once an individual learns how to care for themselves emotionally and mentally. Taking the time to do this for myself will benefit not only me but my loved ones as well.
ALWAYS saying Yes is not the equivalent of I LOVE YOU.
I have a small suspicion that most women say yes because they want to be viewed as kind, nurturing, and selfless. Most importantly, we use it as a way to show our love to others. So we give yeses away without regard to how we’re going to sustain ourselves. I’ve struggled with this mentality and I’m sure the woman in my life have too.
Self Care versus Selflessness.
Saying yes to please someone you love or make them happy is often necessary. In life you’re not going to just go through it only doing what benefits you; however, you should understand that saying no doesn’t mean you love them less.
Sometimes it just means that you love yourself enough to say yes to the things that you want and need even if it translates as a “No” to the spin class your sister signed you up for on Monday night. Your mental health prefers that you stay in bed watching Supernatural and eating a bowl of rocky road.
I want to leave you with a quote:
When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself
or at least not too often.
Just as we budget our money in the New Year after a realization that we can only make that dollar stretch so far; we should also budget ourselves. You’re a limited, beautiful, hot commodity. Treat yourself as such.
I definitely agree that saying yes to everything is not going to help you be happy or that it translates to caring. I argue with my dad all the time that his life would be easier if he said no every once in a while! An empty cup can’t give anything, make sure you have what you need together before trying to run yourself dry doing for others !
You are absolutely right; it’s a hard lesson to learn and some people may even have the opposite problem. I just believe that for us guilty “people pleasers” Saying No is often difficult because we define our character by being generous in saying yes. Thanks for your view and comment1
I have struggled with this for years when it comes to my family. The pressure to constantly give to others at my own expense caused me to just distance myself. I’m learning how to get others to respect that I need to put my oxygen mask on first before helping them with theirs. Great post.
“I need to put my oxygen mask on first before helping them with theirs” that is definitely the truth. Its a learning process to come to the understanding that we have to care for ourselves in order to be able to be a blessing to those in our lives. Thanks for reading 😊
I agree…i am working on it. It is a truly a progress. Reason 3 and 4 nailed. Yessss. I gotta think about self before saying yes. I love it.
Thank you for reading