28/04/2015 08:03 BST | Updated 27/06/2015 06:59 BST

Don't Say Yes When You Mean No

How conditioned are we to automatically say 'yes' when something is asked of us? We may want to be of service, be seen to do the right thing, not disappoint or cause offence and yet saying 'yes' when every part of us doesn't want to is a recipe for hurt and resentment. Whether it be to sex, going somewhere we've been invited or even accepting another drink or piece of cake, whilst there's an argument for being sensitive, kind, flexible on occasion, saying 'yes' can end up becoming the most negative word in our vocabulary.

- When we're congruent with others we're comfortable, in the flow, feeling happy to be sharing experiences and doing things together. There's no negative undercurrent. Saying 'yes' when we mean 'no' means there's an inner conflict occurring. We're doing something, giving something away and we're aware that for us it's a big deal; we expect the other person to intuitively know, understand, really value and appreciate what we're doing for them.

- As a consequence we may expect something in return for being so generous. After all, when we make the effort to go along with their wishes why wouldn't they want to reciprocate and return the gesture? But, it may be that the other person simply asked the question and expected us to answer honestly, not appreciating that for us it was such a big deal. Giving to get something in return can result in everyone feeling let down. We, as the giver may feel used and unappreciated, the recipient may feel annoyed because they understood that we were happy to go along with things.

- Resentment can start to fester. We may feel a 'we always do what they want' attitude and start to feel resentful, disregarded, inconsequential. Yet it's happened because we didn't speak up or discuss how we felt, we neglected to share our thoughts and feelings from the outset. Over time good will can be eroded, eventually damaging the relationship and causing dissonance.

- Jealousy may ensue where we start to compare our relationship and watch how the other person behaves in situations with others. We may feel annoyed, jealous, disappointed because we're the one who's always been there for them, agreeing with them, trying so hard to please them. Other people aren't seen as being supportive, they may even disagree and argue and yet they receive more 'favours' and respect.

- It can be a valuable exercise to reflect on why we're behaving in this way. Were our role models always compliant, did we learn that any kind of disagreement was negative, unattractive, unacceptable, were our views and wishes regularly dismissed? Learning to become more confident and express ourselves in a positive, assertive way can add significantly to the quality of our relationships with others, but more importantly improve our relationship with ourselves.

Then when we do say 'yes' it's a positive response, positive for all concerned.