Finding Your “No”: How and Why I Stopped Being a People Pleaser

I am a pleaser of people. A “Yes” woman, afraid to say “No”. I have been as long as I can remember. This has oftentimes come at the expense of my own happiness and well-being, as there have been many scenarios in the past where I have placed myself in harmful situations out of fear of hurting others. 

No

In the end, I only hurt myself. 

I noticed a large shift when I became a mother. My focus instantly became much more on my family and less on others and their opinions. There was a period of time when I juggled others’ preferences and happiness with my own, and I crashed hard. When that crash came, I thought, “for what?” At that point, I vowed to start moving away from being that “Yes” woman and to find more “No” in my life. 

It’s been roughly three years since that moment. During that time, life has thrown a lot in the way of our family, as it does for everyone. In stressful situations, including those that are so overwhelming that you can’t see through to the next ten minutes, I have found my “No.” I’ve listened to my gut feeling and rolled with it. 

No

And you know what? “No” becomes easier the more you use it. The stronger your “No,” the better and more beautiful your “Yes” will be. You will be able to say “Yes” to those things that truly spark love and joy in your life. 

“No” applies to all sorts of things in life. Social obligations. Toxic family members. Holiday planning. Kid parties. Relationships – be they professional or personal. Jobs. Vacations. You get the idea. 

When I freed myself by using “No,” my “Yes” became all the more meaningful. I started to use more of my heart/gut and less of my head. As an anxious overthinker, this was difficult to do. The heart/gut tends to let you know where you’re at pretty quickly. It’s magic. 

Perhaps the best phenomenon has been learning to lean in and truly embrace the “Yes.” Again, my gut feeling. People show up in the toughest times who you would not have otherwise expected. Opportunities re-appear at times that are better than ever. As someone who has made a ton of mistakes and continues to do so, I think these re-appear to give me another shot with the knowledge made from falling hard.

Where I used to try, try, and try again, I have learned to let stuff be where it’s meant to be, instead of forcing it.

Where I used to internalize, I now focus on external factors that could have nothing to do with me and I let things lie. 

People, scenarios, opportunities, and hardships will come and go. Though cliche, the “reason, season, or a lifetime” saying comes to mind. It’s okay to let things be, even if they are not in a spot where you’re comfortable. Sometimes they will come back around. 

Though someone may be hurting, you don’t have to continue to be a doormat. Give yourself space and make yourself available if you choose, if and when that opportunity arises. 

I do this not only for my own peace but for the peace and well-being of my home. I want to set a great example for my kids. If they choose to walk away from something given it’s no longer for them, that doesn’t make them a quitter or a failure. If anything, it opens up space in their hearts and minds to figure out what ignites their passion and what truly serves them.

I want my kids to wholeheartedly embrace where their “Yes” leads them, and look forward to continuing to learn beside them as I find my own way. 

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Kylie grew up in Capac, a little rural town in the thumb of Michigan. She now resides in Oakland Township with her husband, Michael, and daughters, Ella and Clara. Prior to becoming a mother, Kylie completed a Bachelor of Science in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science/Pre-Health and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing Analytics, both at the University of Michigan. Her career is focused on improving the quality of healthcare in the most vulnerable populations of Michigan. The past few years have given the opportunity for the most challenging and rewarding role of her life: that of a mother. Kylie is passionate about spending time with her family and friends, endurance cycling and running, going to concerts at small venues, cooking fun and unique dishes with her husband, home improvement projects, playing classical piano, and the color orange. One of the most profound things she’s learned about becoming a mother is to love with all her heart, do the best she can, and try not to worry about the rest.

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