What REALLY happens when we say “Yes”

saying yes

Do you say “yes” a lot? Read this post to find out what REALLY happens when we say “yes.” It will surprise you!

This one is for all of us out there who “say yes” and find themselves trapped in others’ worlds more often than their own.

As humans, we naturally want to help others out and so sometimes we find ourselves trapped in a web of others’ lives and further away from our own (unless you are a narcissist of course, then please move on…this post doesn’t apply to you, lol). Think of those feelings where you think “Well I have to go to so and so’s birthday party because they came to mine” or “I should sign on to the Zoom happy hour for work because I didn’t last week.” These are the moments we are talking about!

So what happens when we say “yes” to these things? In reality, we are saying “no” to something else.

What?! That’s right…when we say, “Yes,” we must ask ourselves what we are potentially saying, “no” to, every single time.

I’m sure you don’t need Captain Obvious here to tell you that, but maybe you do! Oftentimes we just say “yes” because of the “shoulds” and “have to’s” that come into our minds without thinking about what we are actually saying “no” to.

So for example, if you say “yes” to that work happy hour on Zoom, perhaps you are saying “no” to:

  • time to work out
  • dinner with your family
  • time with your kids
  • time with your partner or spouse
  • time to stare at the freakin’ wall because it’s been a day, people!

Whatever it is, it’s important you know and understand your “no” better than your “yes.”

There is an opportunity cost every time you say yes.

When we put that out there into the world who does directly impact? You and those directly around you. That’s a pretty large stake in terms of self-care and life priorities.

If you say yes to yourself it doesn’t make you selfish or less giving as a person. If you are a chronic “yes” person, you may need to put this on a post-it on your mirror…like today.

Saying “yes” to you empowers you to make the choices you actually want that align with your priorities!

That inner critic that tells you otherwise is a bitch, don’t listen to her. She’s like your crazy Aunt Bethany who keeps those fancy molded soaps in the bathroom you can’t use because they are only for decoration. Let’s face it, that soap sure smells good and is meant to be used!

The No Sandwich

Even if you have your priorities straight and can keep your inner critic/people pleasing self at bay, saying “no” to others is hard. There’s a subtle art to it and I am going to give you a tool right now called the “No Sandwich.”

no sandwich

Basically, to make a tasty “No Sandwich” you want to put something positive in front of and behind the “no” to help soften the blow and let the other person know that you mean no harm, you just have your priorities straight.

For example, before COVID I would get a ton of requests after speaking to “pick my brain” over coffee. Of course, I would love to meet with the 12–15 people and have coffee. I love meeting people and having mentally stimulating conversations, but I am a busy lady. I have kids, I have cats, I have other relationships and myself to take care of.

If I say yes to those 15 people and each coffee takes 2 hours with driving time to the nearest Starbucks-that’s 30 hours! Basically a whole work week of meetings! No thank you!

Using this example, let’s walk through how I would make a No Sandwich First, in making my No Sandwich, I decide who I want to meet with and set boundaries and then I use a POSITIVE-NEGATIVE-POSITIVE to complete the sandwich.

For those I want to say “no” to, I might say something like this:

“I would love to meet with you (positive), however right now is not a good time with my packed schedule (negative). Let’s stay in touch though, what’s your e-mail? I’d love to meet with you, so when I have more time I’ll be sure to reach out (positive).

What circumstances are a true “yes”?

Here, I would maybe decide out of the 15, there are 3 people who would be interesting to network with right now. Those people may align with my family, my personal, or my business goals. If they do not align with one of my priorities, then I would not say yes and would use my No Sandwich. If I say yes, you better believe they are somehow adding value to my life. Otherwise, I would need to question what I say yes to, especially if I start to feel doubt or feelings of overwhelm surrounding meeting them.

It’s important to keep your focus on YOU and what matters.

Download our Decision Making Map to help you make the decision to say yes or no the next time you need some help making a choice that aligns with your priorities.

If you liked this post, check out Monday’s which is about saying “I don’t have time” and getting your priorities straight here




Life & Executive Business Coach, Therapist, and Entrepreneur who helps you design the life you want.☀️

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Amy Nolan

Amy Nolan

Life & Executive Business Coach, Therapist, and Entrepreneur who helps you design the life you want.☀️

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