Balance “Yes” & “No”

by | Jul 3, 2012 | 0 comments

…As nurses, we have a tendency to take on more and more… and more- even when we really cannot handle much else.  We are natural caregivers so it makes sense that we desire to help from a space of compassion.  Yet these tendencies make it common for us to say “yes” when we really want/need to say “no”…

…Do these sound familiar?

  • “Sure, I can stay late…”
  • “Yes, I can come in to cover…”
  • “No problem. I can help you…”

…I’ve heard it so often.  When I speak with nurses during self-care workshops, they tell me the major barrier that gets in their way is the challenge of saying “no”.  They notice that because they always say “yes” their plates fill up, making time for them nonexistent…

…This affects our health in many ways: from digestive issues to sleep disturbances, from stress headaches to high blood pressure, from chronic fatigue to impaired immunity functioning.  Yes, our health is impacted by our ability to be in alignment with what is best for us!  In addition to the problems we create when we do this, we place our body into a state of confusion and miscommunication…

…We say “yes” to a request but everything in our minds, bodies, and spirits feels a “no” about it.  We cannot fool our “selves”.  We may go through the motions to perform the task, but only to create inner turmoil and stress.  Have you ever noticed how you feel when this happens?  Here’s an example:

A colleague calls you on your day off and asks you to work for her.  She goes into a long story about how her husband is sick and she has errands to run and there just isn’t time for her to get it all in.  She shares more and more details and soon enough you begin to feel bad for her.  You worry she will be very unhappy with you if you do not help.  But you have a lot going on!  Since it’s your day off you already planned to hike with friends, work on your scrap-book, and cook a delicious dinner.  You really don’t want to do this.  Your body tenses up and pressure builds behind your eyes as you hear yourself say “Yes, I can work.  Let me just change some of my plans and I will call the unit…”

…Yikes!  Even reading this vignette I sense a knot in my throat and my breath quickens.  How many times do we do things when we really don’t want to?  How awful is this for our well-being?…

…So what are some strategies we can implement that can shift these behaviors?  In my last article, I shared some reasons why I find it difficult to say “no”.  Here are some tips that speak to those to get your started:

  • Value Me for Me: Instead of continuously trying to prove my value to my colleagues, I can look inside for my self-worth. I can create exercises that have me loving myself so I feel empowered to say “yes/no” when I desire. An easy way to begin is to write down 3 things you are grateful for about yourself at the end of each day. Realizing you embody unique gifts helps you to do less just so that others “recognize” you.
  • Forget About It: Instead of obsessing about what other people might be saying about me, I can just accept the fact that people will judge me. When I realize that I’m a beautiful being with gifts and talents, I release the worries of perceived judgments. It doesn’t matter what other people say. I free up space to say “no” if that’s what I want to do.
  • Pause and Reflect: Instead of rushing into a “yes” I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. I can pause before immediately reacting in the way I usually do. I take a moment and answer with clarity. If I can help (and want to) – it is a “yes”. If I feel overburdened- I am relieved to clearly say “no”.
  • Let Go: Instead of worrying about a “missed chance” I can relax in the trust that everything happens for a reason. If I have to pass this time, I am glad to know another opportunity will come my way. I don’t have to do it all. I have hope that my path in life reveals itself to me.

How about you? How do you ensure that you listen to your inner “self”? What has worked for you to be able to balance your “yes/no” responses? Are you able to stand up for what is best for you?



  1. I Struggle to Say 'No'! How to Respond with Respect - […] Your Responses. I literally encourage you to keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses. Grab paper and pencil…

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