YES & NO…John Page Burton

Two of the most profound words in the English language are YES & NO. Every time we use either of these words we effectively cancel out the other word. Both words also constitute a complete sentence. Most of us have heard the saying “let your yes mean yes and your no mean no”. In other words, YES means “I’m ALL in, lets do this thing” and NO means “I’m not in at all and we’re not doing this thing”. Many of us struggle with the words YES & NO and may not realize just how big an impact these two words have on the overall quality of our lives. Let me explain…

How many times have we instinctively known that something felt WRONG and yet rather than say NO we moved forward anyway? This conflict routinely shows up in the dating world. Conversely, how many times have we failed to say YES when we knew something felt RIGHT? For example, I have a friend who recently turned down a job transfer to San Diego because he didn’t “feel comfortable” leaving his friends and family behind. He recently admitted that he had begrudgingly said NO and in hindsight “should have gone with his gut and said YES”. I certainly know that over the years I have had my fair share of conflict with these two little words. This conflict may surface in our role as parents. We instinctively know that an answer should be NO but because we desire to be our child’s “friend” we say YES. This conflict often arises in the workplace. For example, we have made family plans for the weekend but at the last minute our boss asks us if “we would be willing” to come in on Saturday. We know that our answer should be a resounding NO but our fear of retribution causes us to proclaim a very weak YES. Everytime we say YES when we really mean to say NO or we say NO when we really want to say YES we are significantly diminishing our personal power. Remember, YES & NO establish our decision!

YES & NO are boundary words. The words YES & NO teach people how to treat us. Case in point…Our boss knows that we don’t desire to come in to work on a Saturday, especially on short notice. When we weakly say “sure, no problem”, we have effectively given our boss permission to disregard our time in the future. However, when we say “I wish you had given me more advanced notice, I have already made plans that I can’t change” we have established a very important boundary. In the future, our boss is more apt to give us advance notice if they even ask us at all. Here’s the key…More than likely our boss will ask the person who never say’s NO. As a parent, our child may not enjoy hearing the word NO but our decision to establish reasonable boundaries and stand firm will teach them a valuable life lesson.

Whenever we are presented with the opportunity to say YES or NO it is wise to seek our deepest truth. Our answer will make a big difference in the quality of our lives as well as how we feel about ourselves.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.


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