The Awesome Things That Happened When I Stopped Being The “Yes” Girl

Remember that movie “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey? In it, the protagonist challenges himself to say yes to everything for a year. He ends up happy, in love and really living. In real life, saying yes all the time can have the opposite effect. It used to leave me unhappy, alone and stressed out, so I started saying no and these cool things happened:

  1. I was free! Sometimes I’d say yes just to please the guy I was dating, even if I didn’t want to do whatever he was suggesting. I’d feel crappy and tied down. Saying no freed me up. I was open to other possibilities and not forced to do anything.
  2. I could get real. Saying no when something didn’t feel right was scary at first — I’d worry that people would be upset or not like me — but it was also empowering. It meant that people could see me for who I really was and love me for the real me, not someone I was desperately trying to be.
  3. It helped me stop getting used and bruised. Yes is an invitation to getting walked all over. A guy I was dating needed money for rent? Yes! He’d ask if I’d like to help him at his job even though I had other commitments? Yes! He suggested I change my hair color? Yes. Ugh, it’s sickening. I was too accommodating for my own good, which opened the way to manipulation and getting used.
  4. It made me make myself a priority. I expected men I dated to make me a priority, but I wasn’t even a priority in my own life! By saying no once in a while, I was able to choose things for me and put my happiness first. It was about time I did that and I’m kinda pissed I didn’t do it sooner.
  5. I didn’t turn compromise into martyrdom. Doing things that my partner wanted to do but that I didn’t always felt like some sort of relationship compromise, but it’s not fair if all I’m doing is sucking up my real feelings and trying to be what they want. Then it’s self-sacrifice and martyrdom, and for what?
  6. I had way more energy. I didn’t want to be the person who was always available to the guy, always nice and sweet, and always giving him my resources. By saying no, I managed to give myself some of that kindness and it energized me. I hadn’t realized how draining it was to be the yes girl.
  7. I didn’t get lost in love. I used to lose myself to love. I’d become what the person wanted or just neglect my needs. It was BS. By saying no, I was finally holding onto things that made me happy and loving myself.
  8. I stopped craving other people’s approval. The desire to be liked is a disease and I was suffering from it. I felt I had to be the yes girl so that I’d be liked by everyone, but it just made me unhappy and stressed out. By taking on the attitude of “If you don’t like me, don’t be in my life,” I was able to say no without worry. It really cut down my stress.
  9. I stopped fearing confrontation. I used to dread any sort of confrontation in relationships, so I’d try to be accommodating even when I was upset or stressed out. It only hurt me. I refuse to pretend that everything’s perfect when it’s not. I want to be real and if that means having a fight, then so be it.
  10. I started wanting to be loved for who I am, not what I do. I don’t want to feel that I need to say yes and do certain things in a relationship in order to be loved. That’s such BS! I want people to love me for who I am every day, even when I’m sticking to my guns and saying no, otherwise, their love isn’t real.
  11. I earned more respect. When I was too nice, I just got steamrolled and taken for granted. It was too easy for people to come into my life and take advantage. Once I started to say no, people realized they had to respect me. If they resented me instead, they had no place in my life. I refuse to even explain why I’m saying no because I don’t need to (and explaining it sometimes leads to manipulation).
  12. I seriously raised my standards. It’s hard to have standards if I’m always breaking them by letting people trespass over them. Ugh. By saying no, I’m respecting myself and what I value or don’t want in my life, and this is so important for my own happiness.
  13. I started weeding out the jerks way sooner. When I was a yes girl, I’d be a walking target for jerks and players. Saying no shows me what people are really made of by how they react. If they can’t deal with being on the receiving end of a no, they’re selfish and manipulative instead of meeting me halfway in a spirit of mutual respect.
  14. My stress levels plummeted. I used to say yes out of fear of missing out on a great experience. For example, once I went on a date with a guy even though I wasn’t ready because he insisted. The date was a disaster because it had been the wrong time for it. I regretted saying yes. I was afraid of missing out, but thinking in that way just causes anxiety. Sometimes I’ve got to love myself enough to say no and believe I matter more than an opportunity — if I’m not ready for it, it’s the wrong one for me anyway.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.