The Power of Saying Yes, the Wisdom of Saying No

By Koko Wadeson

You will get more out of life by saying yes. Not saying yes (i.e., saying no) is often rooted in fear. Perhaps you are afraid of failure. Or financial ruin, burnout, injury, insanity... It’s a clusterfuck out there, and saying yes could be asking for a big bowl of trouble. But have you ever admired someone who seems truly unbounded? Someone who eagerly accepts offers you wouldn’t even consider? Someone who confidently launches farfetched schemes? Free from the burden of doubt and worry, these people seem to be able to improvise their way through any situation. Who are these yea-sayers and have they really transcended their limits and stepped into the flow of abundance? Or have they just stepped in it?

Because as any naysayer knows, if you say yes all the time you will get too much out of life. Saying yes is like asking to be spammed. You will end up doing things you don’t want to do. If not actual disaster, you at least run the risk of disappointment, boredom, and annoyance. It’s ok to say no. Life will go on. Sure, there’s a lot of pressure—both external and internal—to say yes. People like it when you like the things they like and do the things they do. And there’s your own fear of missing out, fueled by the constant view of the other side of the fence afforded by carefully edited Facebook and Instagram posts. But it’s ok to say no if you’re not truly motivated by the opportunity. It’s ok to say no if saying yes would cause you great inconvenience. It’s ok to say no without a detailed excuse.

What’s important to understand is that we choose much of what happens to us by either accepting or blocking the possibilities that come our way. And over time we develop patterns, predictably saying yes to certain things and no to others. These countless minor decisions add up to major choices and ultimately, our lives. If you’re happy with the way things are going, you are probably doing a pretty good job of balancing yes and no. If not, you should reassess. Most likely you need to practice saying yes, but breaking from both your yielding and resisting patterns will expand your comfort zone and clarify who you really are. What’s the worst that could happen? You can always learn from failure. And that’s true wisdom.