The Power of Saying ‘No’: A Path to Healing from Codependency

By Stacy Brookman, Leadership & Resilience Coach.

In my personal life, I found myself constantly saying ‘yes’ to everyone around me. This wasn’t just a habit; it was a deep-rooted issue that created a false sense of helpfulness. Let’s explore why saying ‘yes’ isn’t always as noble as it seems.

At first, saying ‘yes’ felt like the right thing to do. It seemed supportive, kind, and essential. However, this behavior wasn’t as selfless as it appeared. There were hidden consequences.

I became everyone’s go-to person, but I was merely touching the surface of what they truly needed. The people in my life required real, substantial support. Instead, they got quick reassurances. Each insincere yes was a waste of our precious time.

I’ve learned that saying yes often takes the easy way out and rarely serves us well. It feels like an obligation—“this is just who I am” or “this is how I was taught.”

“Yes” can appear selfless but actually avoids the responsibility of saying “no.”

Society often pressures us to say yes, equating constant agreement with dedication and always being available with reliability. We celebrate busyness, mistaking it for productivity and value.

The result?

We end up overwhelmed—too many commitments, overloaded schedules, and countless obligations we should have turned down.

In my relationships, this meant always being there for others, even at the expense of my well-being. Late nights spent comforting friends, days packed with favors—all to uphold an image of being indispensable.

I once had a friend who expected me to be available anytime, thinking it showed my commitment.

This attitude spills over into family life. It’s the parent who never says no to their kids, even when exhausted. It’s the partner who always agrees, even when they need a break.

Beneath this constant yes is a damaging belief: we must always prove our worth through our actions and agreements. Seeking this validation drains our health, creativity, and focus, leading us to put others’ happiness above our own. This is where everything starts to fall apart.

Yes can be misleading.

It avoids the discomfort of saying no.

It seeks instant approval—a fleeting boost in likeability.

But these impulsive yeses neglect our own needs, overwhelm us, and wear us down.

Eventually, we let everyone down, including ourselves.

More importantly, saying yes prevents others from growing. By always being the fixer, we stop others from developing their own problem-solving skills and taking responsibility for their outcomes.

A thoughtful no is invaluable. It allows us to focus on what truly matters and gives others the chance to step up. Constant yes is a trap we can choose to escape.

Choosing to say no creates space for meaningful interactions and activities. Understanding that yes is often a shortcut opens the door to a more intentional, fulfilling life. The discomfort of no will ultimately serve you better.

Your Gear-Up Checklist:

  • Assess Your Yeses: Identify situations where you frequently agree. Are they aligned with your values and priorities?
  • Start Small: Practice saying no to one request this week that doesn’t benefit your well-being.
  • Encourage Others: Delegate tasks. Help others grow their skills and take responsibility.
  • Set Boundaries: Define clear limits for your personal time. Stick to them. I have a Resilient Boundaries Toolkit to help you with that. It will help you craft your personal boundaries that can’t be trampled.
  • Join a Support Group or Get a Coach: Connect with a community, like this one, or find a coach like myself, for support and accountability.

Taking control of your life by saying no more often is a powerful step toward personal growth and freedom. Embrace the discomfort of no, and watch your life improve in meaningful ways.

Women leaders who want to eliminate imposter syndrome, people-pleasing, and overwork, leverage Stacy Brookman and her confident leadership coaching to clarify their power skills and confidently command their seat at the table. She’s a women’s leadership coach, a conference speaker, and the founder of Real Life Resilience. 🌟 Grab your FREE Resilient Boundaries Toolkit now and start crafting a life with more balance, less stress, and boundaries that truly work for you. Click here to download and let the positive change begin:

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