A chief block to saying no is fear that it will cause us to miss out on an opportunity. Believing that indiscriminately saying yes is the route to happiness blocks opportunity and wellbeing, though. We wind up saying yes to everything, but we don’t practise discernment. We don’t align with our needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions—our values and boundaries. 

On some level, associating ‘yes’ with potential opportunity reflects advice often drilled into us in childhood about not ‘burning bridges’.

It’s this idea that someone might come in handy one day. You know, you might need that person and get to cash in all of those misspent yeses and fuzzy boundaries.

Oh, remember that time you took liberties? I didn’t communicate my line and my limit because I wanted to ensure that I looked ‘good’ and ‘compliant’ instead of ‘rude’ and ‘angry’. You don’t remember? Well, anyway, never mind. I didn’t burn that bridge, so you need to say yes to my ask. 

When we say yes even when we don’t need or want to, or we sign up to stuff fearfully or automatically, we ensure that we’re tied up in the wrong things. And we do all of this while also feeling bad about ourselves. We wind up with a collection of unwanted situations and stressy relationships in our lives that are akin to the spare room, attic or garage full of items we won’t sort out or let go of because, you know, they might come in handy one day. 

What “opportunity” is there in saying yes when you’re being less than who you really are?

Opportunity is about something being made possible, receiving favourable circumstances. But what’s “made possible” by saying yes when we really need or want to say no is guilt, frustration, resentment, anxiety, etc. We’re increasing the chances of not being, doing and having the relationships, things, situations and, yes, opportunities, that we need, desire and deserve. 

Some bridges need to be burned. In doing so, you stop playing the same role(s) or being open to repeats of boundary issues.

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