This post is the first of three posts published on helping women say no with confidence in situations that do not serve their best interests.
In this post, we’ll discuss why women say yes. It’s actually deeply rooted in our history!
In the next post, I discuss how women have come to say yes, and in the final post, I discuss the actions you have available to you to say no.
All The Times I Said YES
I said thousands of yeses before I realised it was okay to say no, maybe or I’ll think about it.
Only a few years ago I realised I’d created a personal reality of being the ‘go to’ person. When you put yourself out there as the ‘go to’ person, it becomes everyone’s reality and how people come to know you.
When I noticed this had been my reality all my adult life, I was unsettled, and I knew things had to change.
Turning yes into maybe or no didn’t come naturally and as I was to discover, changing the reality was not easy. I’ve written this post on how to say no with confidence because I’m passionate about helping women:
1. Observe their own expectations
2. Observe the expectations of others and
3. Step into their own authority and make choices that serve them.
When you’re busy giving others what they want there’s little or no room left to say yes to you.
Are You Everything To Everyone?
How does the following statement sit with you; Many women believe they must be everything to everyone and suffering is mandatory.
Perhaps like me, you’ll need to let this claim sink in for a while before you can begin to interpret what it means to you.
When I initially heard this during my coach training several years ago I was shocked, and I didn’t know what to make of it. Until I began reflecting upon how much of my life was spent giving.
I allowed the reality to slowly sink in while I thought of the thousands of life moments that I simply jumped in and either did things or took on the role of emotional support for others without noticing, without questioning, and sometimes without being asked to be that person.
I was referred to as selfless.
There are two things going on when women do for others without question
- They put themselves forward as an offer – “I’ll do ‘X’ for you”
- They say yes to people’s requests – “Yes, I accept your request”
So often there’s no time between the thought of an offer or the request before the act of acceptance. Therefore, the automatic yes response becomes a default.
When Offering To Do Things Comes Before YOU
Offering is the automatic action upon noticing someone needs assistance or support in some area of their life.
Both offering and requesting are language actions. Even though the words themselves hold different meanings, and the conversations for how you came about offering or accepting a request are different, the resulting actions you take, are the same.
Here’s a simple example that highlights the offer or request. Many women can relate to this..
1. Someone asks you to do something for them. In other words they make a request (think of a personal situation)
Whether this is an outright request or it’s implied, there is an expectation that you will take care of something for the requester.
2. You make an offer
You have directly or indirectly offer to fulfill some action which you assess will result in a satisfactory outcome for someone else. Whether this offer is implied or as a result of a direct conversation, one way or another you are taking care of something for someone else.
Here are some areas of concern we can be drawn towards either offering or accepting someone’s request.
- Physical Health and Well-being
- Play and sociability
- Financial management
- Emotional support
- Physical support
- Grand parenting
- Domestic chores
Take a moment to reflect on the areas where you have become a yes person.
Whether you’ve made an offer or someone else has made a request poses confusion.
Do we really stop to think how the actions that result from saying yes came to be in the first place?
We spend our lives coordinating actions with one another. Our days are taken up with this action, and the details of our conversations become largely invisible.
We don’t notice how we don’t notice the everyday actions we take together. If you considered the personal implications of not saying no would you change your conversations? Would it change the outcome?
As a woman, being the go to person is embedded very deeply in history.
There is a historical cultural narrative running through the fabric of most societies, that as women we are put on this earth to be mothers and as a result must suffer.
What it means to be a mother lives in the stories of the people. The notion that this narrative disregards “no” as an available response for many women is a real probability.
Saying yes as a default holds women back from getting what they want from life simply because there seems to be no space for them.
At this point, I encourage you to consider no or “maybe” as an option and to notice those times you don’t seem to make “no” available to you. This will help you develop a sensibility to observe in ways you perhaps haven’t in the past.
The more you observe what you don’t want, the more you will open up spaces for different possibilities.
Coaching with Me
Book a 1:1 Soul Session or join my Whole Woman program
Related Post: 10 Habits of Self-Authoring Adults