A Great Way to Screw Up Your Life

Have you told someone that you would attend an event they were planning when you KNEW you weren’t really going to? Have you accepted an assignment when you KNEW you weren’t going to deliver? Have you married someone when you KNEW it wasn’t going to work out? Believe it or not, more than a few people have.

I think this is what Sophocles had in mind when he said, “The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.”

In his book Getting Things Done, productivity guru David Allen says, “A basic truism I have discovered over twenty years of coaching and training is that most of the stress people experience comes from inappropriately managed commitments they make or accept.”

Saying yes when you want to say no is the epitome of an “inappropriately managed commitment.”

Living with the habit of saying yes when you want to say no is a great way to screw up your life, right up there with robbing liquor stores and taking babies from hospital nurseries. It might feel good in the moment, but it never ends well.

So quit saying yes to invitations, requests for your time and assistance, proposals of marriage, friends who ask to borrow money, or whatever, when you truly want to say no. If it’s helpful, hold onto the perspective that it’s not your responsibility to manage other people’s feelings–that it’s impossible to make everyone happy, and the surest way to make yourself unhappy is to try.

Or, keep in mind that “people are capable” and that life continuously offers each of us opportunities to learn and grow, usually in the form of “problems.” Perhaps your polite refusal to solve someone else’s problem is exactly what she needs to achieve the next level of her growth.

So, give the next request that comes your way some vigorous thought, and don’t say yes if you want to say no.

Unless, of course, you don’t want to. 🙂