You did it again! You said “yes” when your whole being was screaming “NO!”

You saw the world “yes” floating out of your mouth and all you wanted to do was snatch it from the air and stomp on it with your foot as if “yes” never existed in the English language. Once again. you find yourself committed to doing one more thing that you didn’t want to do, that you don’t have time to do, or that goes against what you value and believe.

Or the “yes” didn’t come out of your mouth, but you let the request hang in the air. Floating there indefinitely while the other person assumed that silence was agreement. You spend the next few days or weeks trying to balance out your desire to say “yes” with your need to say “no.” You ponder an answer and evaluate it over and over and over again.

No wonder you are exhausted!

Saying “yes” to things that are aligned with our values, desires, and interests can be a beautiful thing. However, most of the time, we are saying “yes” to things that drain us. Even when we haven’t formally said “yes,” it is draining us.

It’s time to realize that saying “yes” or implying “yes” when you mean “no” is no longer serving you.

Especially right now. It is more and more difficult for each of us to honor our boundaries than ever before. The pandemic has us each making choices with more uncertainty and division than many of us have seen in our lifetimes.

I’m in the middle of this exact situation myself. My desire to say “yes” right now is strong. I want to go out and experience all the things in life without restriction. Have BBQs. See friends. Entertain out-of-town guests.

But, the piece of me that is stronger is the need to say “no.”

Late last year, after two years of struggling with infertility, my husband and I finally got what we wished for: a positive pregnancy test. We were (are) over the moon, but also super cautious about it, because we had already lost one pregnancy before.

Each week, we allowed ourselves to get a bit more excited and ready to share our pregnancy with our friends and family through trips to the baby store, baby showers, and those last child-free nights out.

Those plans were killed once the pandemic hit. Now, I’m just protecting myself and the baby.

Fast forward to now. A handful of days/weeks before my baby arrives and we have several family members traveling from different parts of the country to us and all (of course) want to see us and potentially the little one (if here).

Can you see the tug-of-war I’m in?

My desire to say “yes,” because I want to share my little one with the family as if the baby was born a year ago and COVID-19 wasn’t an everyday household word. And my need to say “no,” to protect my baby from the unknown of this virus’s impact on infants.

So, what do you do?

You find a win-win! You find the “yes, but!”

What does this look like for my situation? We have a beautiful front porch level with our living room windows. We’ll invite traveling family to see the baby through the windows. They get to see the little one close-up in real life, while we get to keep our baby protected.

Next time you are in a situation where you hear yourself start to say “yes,” pause and look for the “yes, but” or the “win-win.”

It might look like:

Can I schedule three hours to brainstorm with you on something?

Yes, but I can’t give you three hours. I can give you one hour and we can still make a lot of progress in that time by keeping ourselves focused.

Can you bake four dozen of your amazing cookies for our event this Friday?

Yes, but I’ll need to bring store-bought cookies this time.

Can you host our book club this week?

Yes, but everyone will have to deal with the pigsty that is my house.

Can you take on this project that is due today at 5:00?

Yes, but I won’t be able to get this other project out on time as a result.

Keep your eye out for moments to say “yes, but” and see how much it changes your day-to-day. And don’t forget – it’s okay to just say “no” when you know that “no” is the right option for you.

Originally published on Ellevate.