How to avoid the dreaded “yes” trap

By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist

We all have a myriad of tasks and obligations on our plate. Google Calendar and to-do lists can only do so much. Sometimes, the word “yes” is as overused as the crusty tube of mascara you’ve been scraping by with for the past two years. When you say yes to things too often, your mental health starts to take a serious hit – and this is what I call falling into the “yes” trap.

When I find myself victim to the “yes” trap, it’s never pretty. Based on past experience, the only way I seem to crawl out of this hole is to throw all my responsibilities to the wolves. Instead of actually completing the tasks weighing on my shoulders, I choose to spend the entire day doing something much more productive: crying and feeling bad for myself. 

Between the crying spells, you can usually find me laying on the floor blasting music and occasionally pausing it to call my mom for the fifth time that day. After this slight breakdown, I end up pulling myself back together because I can’t bear to lose another day of productivity.

Maybe you deal with being overworked, overbooked, and overwhelmed with life in a similar way as I do. Although I am usually fine the next day, dealing with stress this way doesn’t fix the problem and is usually the reason why the “yes” trap has become a common occurrence in my life.

So, how do we avoid this? Well, the answer is both easy and really hard: stop saying yes all of the time! This seems simple, but if you’re anything like me, you love to try new things and you hate disappointing others.

This is usually the thought process that leads me to the “yes” trap:

“There is a body combat class Tuesday at 5? Sure, after having class all day on Tuesdays, I’m usually hangry and ready to lounge on my couch with a bag of Lays chips by 3 o’clock, but sure, sign me up; I’ll definitely be in the perfect head space to pump some iron!”

As humans, we tend to believe that more always equals better – more money, more friends, more clothes, more things to fill our day. This is true to an extent. While it is nice to have things to do, there is a point where juggling so many different things can actually decrease your happiness and instead cause more stress and anxiety.

Start cutting out things from your routine if you are starting to feel overwhelmed. Maybe you don’t enjoy the Debate Club as much as you thought, and the meetings every Monday have affected the time you have to do homework. 

Cut. It. Out!

Remember that in life, it is impossible to avoid disappointing others. People will ask for your time and/or help often, and sometimes you will have to say no for the sake of your own happiness. You cannot live up to the expectations of others all of the time. You are allowed to say no without feeling like a disappointment.

Along with learning to say no and set boundaries, try to do one thing everyday that makes your soul feel at peace. For you, does an extra long hot shower dilute the stress of a booked day? Or does finishing an extra long day by adding items to your Forever 21 online shopping cart without the intention of buying anything sound more soothing? Whatever peace means for you, peace will be hard to find when you say yes too much.

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