Learn To Say “No” So That You Can Say “Yes”

I’m a pretty easy going guy. While I definitely have my preferences, in social situations I’ll go along with just about anything.

Does everyone want to go to a restaurant that I really don’t care for? Count me in. Does everyone want to go to a baseball game even though I find baseball pretty boring? Yes, I’ll go! Does my boss need me to come into the office this Saturday? Okay!

I think you get the picture. Generally speaking I like to get along and play well with others. I have something of a people pleasing attitude inside of me.

The “Yes Man”

In the comedy starring Jim Carrey, “Yes Man” Carrey plays a man who says “no” just to about everything in life. Eventually Carrey comes across a self-help guru that teaches him to do the opposite, and to “say yes” to literally everything someone asks him to do. Watch the trailer below to get an idea of the movie:

Of course, in learning to say yes to everything, Carrey’s character soon finds his life overwhelmed and out of control, and doing a lot of things he’d rather not do. Eventually, this lands him in quite the pickle with the FBI, and starts to jeopardize his personal and professional relationships.

The ultimate take away from this movie is that we need to say yes to things, as we can easily miss out on life. However, in saying yes to things, we really need to get to the place where we can say no so that we can say yes to the things we truly love.

Overselling Your Commitments

Jesus in the gospels said, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ be ‘No.” (Matthew 5:37) People in Jesus day (like ours) found it hard to tell the truth and to commit to things. They’d fall through on their promises, and their commitment would become unreliable.

As a result, to really show they would follow through on something, people would make all sorts of lofty oaths, saying things like, “I swear to God I’ll really do it this time!” In making such oaths, such would overly sell their commitment to following through on what they said they would do.

Jesus said this sort of mentality was evil and dishonest. Instead, Jesus said we needed to become a people whose “yes” and “no” meant something. We should be a people of our word, and shouldn’t need to add some razzle dazzle to our speech to get people to believe us about our ability to follow through.

But in also saying this, I believe that Jesus is also teaching us that we have the power to say “yes” and “no” to things. Only by effectively building some cushion or margin into your life will you ever have the ability to say yes and no to things, and then be able to actually honor your commitments as a person of your word.

Otherwise, you’ll find yourself constantly drowning and overwhelmed. You’ll be late to social gatherings, you’ll miss deadlines at work, and you’ll find yourself in a lot of situations you’d rather not be in. You’ll become unreliable, and people will begin to doubt you and your ability to follow through for them. And soon you’ll become like the people Jesus was preaching to, in need of constantly overselling themselves with lofty oaths that nobody believes anyway.

Renewed Focus

Since breaking my leg and being in the hospital due to a blood clot last Fall, I’ve realized that while I wasn’t quite getting to the point in my life where I was failing in my commitments to others, I was feeling a sense of being overwhelmed. My life was just too busy. I had little time to recharge, as I was always on the go, and I had little time to focus on the things I’d really like to focus on in my life.

I was saying “yes” to far too much that I didn’t want to be doing, and was saying “no” to the things I’d really like to focus on. All this was being done, at the end of the day, because the people pleaser inside of me just couldn’t say no to certain things in my life.

Now I’m in the place where I’m learning to just say no to more things. And in doing such, I’m ultimately saying no to things so that I can better say yes to the things that truly matter to me.

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