Just like there are two sides to a coin, there is a hidden ‘no’ to every ‘yes’. When we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. Saying yes to working late again and again is saying no to the activities and relationships outside of work. Saying yes to eating a whole chocolate cake when the doctor has given me a pregnancy diet plan is saying no to staying healthy in pregnancy (especially if this happens on many occasions).
Two questions to contemplate:
(1) What is motivating the ‘yes’?
It might be a sense of obligation or pressure. It might be in the service of an important value. It might be impulsive. It might be because it’s pleasurable. Perhaps all the above? Examining your answers may yield insight into whether that yes is worth it for you. If we are making too many yes decisions on impulse or because they are immediately gratifying (chocolate cake), then we are saying no to longer term goals, consistency, and sustainability in our actions.
(2) What am I saying ‘no’ to when I say ‘yes’?
Sometimes we devalue ourselves and the things that are important to us simply by not considering them when we say yes to something else. It can be difficult to consider this question given that it highlights sacrifice or loss resulting from a choice. However, capturing both sides means that we don’t let the other important things slip away. For example, if saying yes to working hard during the week is valuable but leaves me feeling depleted, I will leave my weekends for rejuvenating activities only.