Have you ever noticed how often your mouth says yes before a part of you on the inside even has a chance to say no? Yeah, sometimes the inside no is because we’re tired. Or because we’d planned to do something else. Or we were looking forward to some downtime at home. There are so many reasons for an inside no. But have you ever paused to notice what frequently happens to the inside no? We override it. Disregard it. Push it aside. We convince ourselves it doesn’t matter. Or we simply act like it isn’t there.
Here’s the thing. There are indeed times when we wake up in the morning, and we don’t want to go to work, but it’s still necessary. Or the weekend arrives, we’re exhausted, and we’re not feeling the weekend plans on the schedule, but we’re committed and need to attend. Or we’re running on fumes, but have to feed the kids! But you know what? There are also a multitude of other moments in our week when there’s room for our inside no to matter, but we don’t allow it to.
Why is this? What leads so many of us to feel compelled to say yes when a part of us so badly wants to say no? This question has been on my mind lately. I used to say an outside yes with an inside no all the time. It was the only way I knew how to do it. In fact, I often didn’t even consciously register the inside no. What I did register, though, was the exhaustion I felt doing something I wasn’t having a full-bodied yes about. I experienced low-grade anger and resentment, on the inside, of course, because I became convinced I didn’t have a choice in the matter. And here’s the thing about feeling choiceless. It leaves us feeling disempowered and like it’s happening TO us, but we don’t have a say in it.
There are so many reasons we learn to disregard our inside no. For some, you witnessed this response in your grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents or caregivers. For others, life circumstances taught you it’s essential to please those around you, which quietly leads you to believe that others’ needs matter and yours simply don’t. Whatever got us here, we can all agree that regularly saying an outside yes with an inside no slowly but surely wears on us. It requires that we push our own needs aside, however small, and this can’t help but trigger inside reactions. But since there’s no room for our own needs let alone inside reactions, these feelings start to come out sideways as snarkiness, short-tempered responses, exhaustion, resentment, depression, anxiety, and even anger. Fun times, right? 🤪
I’m certainly not suggesting it’s necessary to wholeheartedly shift from an outside yes to an outside no all day long! That’s not realistic. But I do believe it’s possible to make more space for your inside no to matter. When I invited myself to start noticing how often I said an outside yes with an inside no, it was honestly shocking. And kinda depressing, too, at first! Do you know what else I realized? That in doing this, those around me couldn’t actually trust that my yes was a real yes. I’ll bet you’ve had that experience when someone says yes, but you can feel their inside no. Yet when you inquire about it, they insist it’s a full yes, but it leaves you doubting this truth. Once I realized this, it made me appreciate my friends who so comfortably say no when they need to because it allows me to fully trust their yeses, too!
If you’ve read my previous writing, you’ll know I’m all about the power of the micro-moment. And this is another one of those times when the micro-moment gets to show off its gifts! 😍 If you’re someone who routinely gives an outside yes with an inside no, you aren’t alone! The good news is that if you’re tired of disregarding your inside noes and would love to start giving solidly authentic yeses, here are some easy steps to make this happen:
STEP 1: When you catch yourself giving an outside yes, pause for a micro-moment to notice whether there’s any part of you giving an inside no. Just notice. This isn’t about judging yourself about it. It’s about growing your awareness of how often this happens for you.
STEP 2: As you become more aware of this, ask yourself what the inside part of you may need. Sometimes we give a yes when we really need to pause and eat or use the loo, and that’s often an easy fix and allows an authentic, full-bodied yes to follow. Or maybe you need some alone time or rest, and a no would be more authentic. Simply notice what that inside part of you is needing. In the beginning, it may not feel possible to meet that need, but recognizing the need is a big start.
STEP 3: When you’re ready, see what it feels like to set the intention to say no to something once a day for a while. And when I say no, it could be about something TINY in the beginning! When we practice saying no, it begins to grow new neural pathways in our brains that ultimately make it possible for us to say authentic, out loud noes more easily over time.
Here’s the thing. It isn’t necessary to come to a full stop with your outside yeses and inside noes. It’s about growing our awareness of how often we experience that disconnect between our outsides and insides. That awareness is the first step in making it possible for us to step into more authentic yeses that we and others can trust. And it also makes room for our needs to matter because you know what? They DO!! ❤️
P.S. Know a loved one or friend who is looking for relief in THIS moment? Share my free MICRO-MOMENT RESET with them so they can move into relief, feel more ease, and find more clarity without having to work so hard to make it all happen.
P.P.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, follow me on Facebook (Emily Colwell), Instagram (dr.emily_colwell), and Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh1EqJz3wcFJfICkN60krnQ) . I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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