Are You a 'Yes-Dog'?
By Suzanne Falter-Barns
There was once a time (and there still is, to a certain degree) when I would say 'Yes' to every opportunity, request, suggestion, good idea, and even mediocre idea that came my way. And let me tell you, it was exhausting.
It was like I had this automatic, knee-jerk reaction to accommodate any suggestion that came my way - as if it were my karmic duty. I call this auto-response being a 'yes-dog'. Perhaps you know the feeling.
When you're a yes-dog, your entire being is all about making other people happy; you knock yourself out doing it. No task is too small - you figure you've always got room in your psyche, your schedule or your soul to squeeze in one more thing that someone wants to fit in. God forbid you should say no - for then that someone would be unhappy. Which would be unthinkable.
Like a lot of creative people, I'm naturally empathetic - so I could literally feel other people's pain an experience I simply wanted to avoid as much as possible. For many years, I thought it was up to me to please the rest of the world. I literally thought it was my job to be a 'yes-dog'.
These days, I'm taking a much more circumspect view. I've come to the realization that I simply can't live my soul purpose AND make the rest of the world happy all the time.
And I realize that being a yes-dog doesn't always make the rest of the world happy - even in my little corner. The more well known I get, and the wider my reach, the more I can see it. There is always someone, somewhere, who has a problem with what I'm doing. And therein lay the breakthrough.
I'm no longer uncomfortable with other people's pain. I mean, it's not like I relish it; but I don't run to avoid it. I've come to realize we all have a path, and a learning process we're going through. This means my entire job is nothing more than to be authentic, listen to my gut, and act accordingly. Not only will I not make everyone happy - I can't!
If someone is upset by this, it's no longer a big problem. Rather, it's simply the way their path is rubbing up against my path; it's part of life, growth, and karma. So I have nothing to fear.
My friend Joan Sotkin has a saying, 'I don't always have to be the one who's uncomfortable here'. Amen! Since I've given up being a yes-dog, and let go of the need to be 'the one who's always uncomfortable', great things have begun to stream my way. My reach, my income, my productivity and my impact in the world have gone up in quantum leaps.
Best of all, I've relaxed as I go about my business. 'No' is not scary - it's empowering. And ironically enough, the world has not turned on me in anger and resentment - it's actually stepped right up to my door and truly embraced what I'm doing.
Are you a yes-dog? Take my handy quiz below to assess where you are. And may I suggest a step away from that easy little word, to one that can be equally empowering: "No".
The Are You a 'Yes-Dog'? Questionnaire
1. Do you find it hard to say no to your children, even when they're making unreasonable demands.
2. Do you long to be able to tell your boss exactly what you think - but you just can't?
3. Do you find it impossible to deny yourself 'forbidden' pleasures - i.e. Ben & Jerry's ice cream when you're dieting - even if you've made a decision not to indulge?
4. Do your friends tell you that you're a pushover, and advise you to stand firm?
5. Do you get a queasy feeling in your gut when someone asks you to do something that's just not a good fit for you - and then inevitably cave in despite your feelings?
6. Are you uncomfortable asking for more money or more responsibility around your work?
7. Are you always the person who volunteers even when you don't want to?
8. Are there things you long to do in life, but you simply can't find the time or the courage to get to them?
Rate your answers:
For every a) give yourself 10 points. For every b) give yourself 7 points. For every c) give yourself 4 points. For every d) give yourself 1 point.
If your score is 60-80, you're probably saying 'Yes' WAY more often than you want to. Consider getting some coaching on how to say no from a good friend, life coach or partner.
If your score is 40-60, your ability to say 'No' willingly is spotty - try pausing and counting silently to five before you answer.
If your score is 20-40, you've got most situations pretty well in hand. Try saying 'No' just a little more often and see what happens.
If your score is 0-20, you're doing great! Your ability to monitor when to say 'Yes' and when to say 'No' is truly inspiring.
About The Author
For information on how to find the time, energy, money to live your purpose in life, check out Suzanne's free ezine, The Joy Letter. Sign up at http://www.howmuchjoy.com/joyletter.html and receive our valuable report, 35 Guaranteed Time Savers. And get a daily blast of joyful tips from the Blast o' Joy blog at http://selfhelpsalon.typepad.com/blast_o_joy/.
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