April 1, 2021

How to Say "Yes" and "No" Like a Pro

How to Say

Sometimes being a people-pleaser is just NOT fun. Sure, we may get excited at the chance to help someone or work really hard to get the satisfaction of a job well done, but at what cost? 

We’ve all had that dreaded feeling, having to decide between saying “yes” or saying “no” to something or someone. 

You might be asking yourself, is saying “yes” really a “bad” thing? If you think about it, always saying “yes” all the time can hurt us because it can get in the way of what we really want to do, say, and be. 

So, why is it so difficult to say “no?” 

Why is it so difficult to be honest with ourselves when we know the answer in our hearts but we say “yes” anyway? 

Why are we so afraid of letting others down?

In this episode, we’re going to explore all of these things! It can be a challenge to find yourself saying “no” because deep down, we don’t want people to be upset or disappointed. We don’t want others to think that we couldn’t be there for them, or to think that we’re mean or even selfish. 

Here’s the reality, my friend.  It’s not fair to you if you feel like you’re being torn in two different directions! You have the power to say what is and isn’t going to work or be beneficial for you. 

When we make so many promises by saying “yes,” we become unable to show up with our full potential and to do the things we actually want to do. So, let’s explore these concepts some more and dive right in. 

To help you navigate this complicated yes and no journey, feel free to download my free guide. It's called the Kindness to Self Handbook. It's full of affirmations, principles and a brief checklist to help keep you showing up for yourself. Simply go to www.maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com/kindness to get your free copy!


[0:31] The origin of people pleasing and the “yes” attitude

[3:56] What really happens when we always say “yes”

[5:27] The reasons why taking care of our needs and being kind to ourselves actually matters

[8:57] The strategies you need to know to actually say “no” effectively

For more information on the Make Time for Success podcast, visit:


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Dr. Christine Li [host] -

Website: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/procrastinationcoach

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/procrastinationcoach/

Christine Li:

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the show. This is Episode 16. Today I'm going to talk about a topic that was suggested by Karen. She's a member of my facebook group and one of the world's most delightful people. She suggested that I discuss the topic of knowing how to say yes, and how to say no appropriately, and how to get out of that long cycle of people pleasing. My ideas on these subjects and some straightforward tips for how to handle these murky interpersonal situations are inside this episode. So let's go listen. Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li, and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm, so they could begin working to their potential. In this podcast, if you're going to learn a powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together, so that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. Welcome to the make time for success podcast. Do you have a twinge of nervousness when you tell people it's a no? Do you tend to avoid that twinge altogether by just saying yes, all the time? Well, this episode is going to be a deeper dive into the dynamics of saying yes, and no appropriately. And by that, I mean, saying yes, and no in a way that really fits with what you need, and how you're thinking and feeling. First, I'm going to start off by just talking about my thoughts on the origins of the anxiety around letting people down in the first place. I think that from our earliest days, we are trained to say yes, and to cooperate pretty much fully, both by our families of origin and all throughout our early schooling. On top of that, I think we are also all encouraged to learn how to work hard. Even though later on in life, that trait, that ability to work hard, can come at a great cost where we're working hard, even though our mental, emotional and physical health systems are breaking down. So we have that underpinning of being trained into saying yes, and to working hard, no matter what the circumstances are. And I think what that does is that it makes us somewhat unready, as young adults and older adults, to deal with the constant situation of being phased with relatively unclear situations where we don't actually know if we can or if we should say, No, even if we feel like we should be saying now, basically, I think adult life is filled with situations where nobody really knows. And there really isn't a clear standard for when you can say yes, and when you can say no. So if you haven't been trained into just trusting yourself and being able to say no, comfortably, you're left feeling this constant sense of unease about having to say no, or wanting to say no, and you have a fear that you might be causing a conflict. I think people tend to think that they're conflict avoidant, or they fear conflict. And I think they really do. But I think it's not because they don't know how to handle it, or that they couldn't handle a conflict. It's just that people haven't had much experience in doing so they haven't caused conflict. They haven't engaged in it, they've been too afraid. And what do they do? They just say, yes, they cooperate, even though they don't think that they should be cooperating, or they don't even have the time to cooperate, or they just plain don't want to cooperate. Basically, these people who are constantly saying, Yes, have not given themselves true permission from inside to do what they need to do for themselves. And what do they become, they become what we call people pleasers. And I think each of us has had the experience of being a people pleaser at some point or another and maybe pull the years of our lives. So this is just a general conversation to help you if you're feeling like you're overwhelmed right now and you need to kind of straighten out your schedule and you need to take charge of your own goals and stop taking care of other people as much. So if that's you keep on listening. So now I'm going to go on to what happens when we get stuck saying yes. And being people pleasers. When we are people pleasers, we basically get on a never ending treadmill trip. And where does that treadmill trip get us? It just gets us into one unclear situation after another. And then we become overwhelmed because our schedules are packed. And we don't know how we got there. We don't know how we got so busy. We become overburdened, because we've just agreed to more than we can handle or more than what we have time for, we become exhausted, because of the real fear of not being able to meet everyone else's expectations. And when you say yes to everyone, there are a lot of people expecting a lot of things from you. And then of course, we become disappointed and stressed about our own lack of ability to perform the way we really want to, we're not really showing up with our full potential or full power, when we've just promised our energy all over town. It's very much a terrible cycle to be in. And I think, again, I just have a lot of experience in my past life, of doing these kinds of things of saying yes, too much of being overbooked of being exhausted all the time, and feeling frustrated that things weren't going as well as they could. And I think oftentimes, the worst thing that happens when we get caught on that treadmill cycle to nowhere is that we feel in our heart of hearts, that there's no room to be kind to ourselves, we basically just have to cut out breakfasts, we have to cut out nice things for ourselves, we have to carve out time here for other people when we keep saying yes to other people. And when we're not properly taking care of our own lives. So the real risk of being a people pleaser is that you leave yourself no room to be kind to yourself. And I think that's really a dangerous thing. And that's a very heavy cost of being a people pleaser. So what's the answer to all of this? I think the answer to all of this is to use kindness to yourself on purpose, and to use it specifically as a tool to determine how to say yes and no, properly. And I'm going to teach you how to do that right now. So how do we use the principle of kindness itself to determine how to say yes or no? First, we have to check in with ourselves to see what might actually make us happy. Yes, happy. But mind you, I don't mean The Escapist procrastination type happy where it's just a short term, high, and you're not really doing things that are good for you. I mean, truly happy in a longer term, real kind of way. So you have to check in with your gut and see what you're actually wanting for yourself. Second, we have to trust that when we are listening to that inner voice, that gut voice that we have, when we're abiding by that true feeling, that we are actually acting appropriately in the universe, that that's actually our role that we are supposed to be taking care of what we think and feel. And when we do that the universe will run well, too. We're all doing well when we take care of ourselves. Third point here is that we have to remember that it's not an accident, that we feel and think the things that we do, or that we think and feel the way we do. Your capacity to think and feel things through is not a bunch of accidents, just randomly strung together. You are really good at knowing what is good for you deep down inside now. You just have to learn to get better at representing your thoughts and feelings. You have to get stronger at things like saying no. The last tip here is to remember that you should assume that the other people around you that you're working with can also say yes and no for themselves. We are all free people. And we are all again responsible for representing what we truly think and feel. If by the way you feel that other people around you cannot handle your opinion. can't tolerate your no or your Yes, then you have to start wondering if you should be connected with those types of people in the first place. So now I thought I would add a little section about how to actually deploy the concept of saying no how to actually say no. So my strategy that I tell my clients is to say no, but say no, while trusting yourself, start, without any expectation of how the other person is going to react, know that anything can happen, they might accept your yes or no, they might reject it, but be open to both results, be open to both possibilities. But also know that you can handle both responses. And that is going to be the most important boost to your confidence right there. The fact that you believe that you're strong enough to handle the response is going to make your no a successful now that you're basically communicating to the other person, that you truly know what you need for yourself and for the situation. So start with that feeling of confidence, say no, and then wait for the response, and then deal with the response. It's when we start out, fearing that we won't be able to handle it, if somebody gets angry with us, or they get disappointed with us, or they might yell at us. When we start out feeling fragile in that way. That's when things really don't go well. Because we don't communicate with that strength of our voice, or that strength of purpose. And then we come across as being vulnerable. And as soon as you're vulnerable, you're vulnerable. But if you say to yourself, I can survive you well. So this practice of speaking truthfully and openly on your own behalf is very much a practice of being kind to yourself, and you're going to feel a great and quick ripple effect. As soon as you start doing this, you're going to feel more calm, you're going to feel greater clarity about what is real, versus what you were imagining might happen. So you're going to be dealing in real time rather than in possibilities and imaginary sequences of conflict, you're also going to feel that you have greater ease in your interactions with other people guess why? Because you're going to cut down on the level of misunderstanding and guessing games that people can have with each other. I think if you could imagine the situation of people who have just started to date each other. Person x doesn't know person, why person x doesn't know how to speak to person, why person y does not know how to speak to person x yet. And it can be very nerve wracking, you just don't know each other well. But once you develop that understanding through just being authentic, just telling the truth, saying yes or no appropriately, that feeling of unease just magically goes away. So when you treat yourself kindly, and when you speak truthfully, and openly, you're going to have a lot more interpersonal ease. And finally, you're also going to start not feeling so disappointed and afraid of everything, because you're going to end up getting a lot of what you were wanting in the first place. And who doesn't want more of that. So the good news, after all of this is that when we make changes for ourselves for the better, everyone gains, not just us. So let's stop trying to figure out everything ahead of time by trying to figure out what everybody else needs ahead of time. And just start from how we are feeling and thinking First, start from what you need. First, start from there, start confidently, say your piece, believe that you will be okay. And then keep going from there. Those people that were fearing we're going to be disappointed in our nose, we'll just have to cope. And they will. Oftentimes, of course, those people are also relieved to know your truth, to know that you know what you can handle. And then they don't have to guess or assume about what you're capable of doing anymore. So to summarize, and to quote my heroes, Sarah braless. You need to say what you want to say you have to do what you need to do. You have to know what your end goal is before you give any yes or any No. And know that everything will work out when you trust yourself and act in alignment with what you need in your life. So to help you navigate This complicated yes and no journey. Feel free to download my free guide. It's called the kindness to self handbook. It's just three pages of affirmations, principles and a brief checklist to help keep you showing up for yourself. Go to make time for success podcast.com slash kindness to get your free copy. Again, it's make time for success podcast.com slash kindness. Thanks for listening to this episode. I'm gonna see you next week for my wonderful conversation with Christine M. Roberts, on how to release past trauma. So you can create a life of massive abundance. She is a delight, and you're not going to want to miss that episode. So I'll see you next week. Thank you for listening to this episode of The make time for success podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website make time for success podcast.com for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. I'll talk to you soon