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  • Writer's pictureGabby Eckert

The “Yes” Addict

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Are you a fellow “yes” addict? I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world I mean. A “yes” addict is someone who struggles to say no to other people’s requests, even when they know that they don’t have the time, desire, or energy to do what is being asked of them. It’s like they’re addicted to saying “yes” to every request that comes their way.

Are you the type of person who says “yes” without hesitation when someone asks you to do something that adds stress and chaos to your life? Like me, do you struggle with mustering up that powerful two-letter word, “NO”? Maybe you are like me and get a lump in your throat because you want to cry, knowing the burden that yes will cause you. We resort to our go-to moves and phrases, faking a big smile and cheerfully saying “Sure!” “No problem!” “Of course!” “ I would love to!” or “Yes, yes, yes!”

This is so me to a T. I was in a place where it was very hard for me to say no to anyone. I would say yes to almost every request and demand. I agreed to the events I didn’t want to be at, fundraisers I couldn’t afford, uncomfortable situations that made my skin crawl, the extra work for which I didn’t have the energy, and the extra time for which my schedule didn’t allow.

I did all these things with a smile on my face, though inside I felt like I was on the brink of a burnout. Sadly, frazzled and stressed was the way of life for me. I would rise early and go to bed late, trying to accomplish all of the demands I had over committed myself to. I didn’t have the time or energy to do the things that were important to me. I spent my time and effort doing what others wanted me to do and had nothing left to spend on my own responsibilities, callings, goals, and dreams.

I was miserable. No time remained for me to do the things that brought me joy and refreshed my soul. Many nights were spent crying to my hubby, and many weeks ended with Friday night burnouts. I’m embarrassed to even write this entry, sharing how often I let this happen and how long this behavior continued.

But I feel like it’s very important to make clear that saying yes to people is not always a bad thing. Sisters, I am NOT saying to never help someone. Understand that if you are able and have the time, energy, or resources to assist someone, please do it. End of story. I believe with all my heart that it is better to give than to receive. In my family, we value giving and acts of service tremendously. We try our best to implement these practices in how we live our lives every day.

The problem is when we over commit ourselves from a place of fear. I can’t get behind doing things for others simply because we’re afraid to disappoint them or worried they’ll reject us if we say “no.” The reality is that when we say “yes” at these times, we’re not helping and serving these people from a pure heart. We’re agreeing to their demands because we want them to like us. WOW! So I may look like I’m serving, helping, and doing all the right things, but inside all I care about is this person’s opinion of me.

When I took a step back and was honest with myself, I realized that this self-inflicted, chaotic schedule was something I agreed to because I wanted the people asking to like me, respect me, and view me positively. I would push and push to get everything done for people so I could receive their approval and praise.

I wish I could say that when I operate in yes-addict mode I am doing all these things for people with a joyful heart and a desire to help and serve. But truthfully, most of the time I do these things begrudgingly and with growing bitterness. I may even complain about it to my hubby a little. (Okay… a lot!) I also grow more and more angry with the person who keeps asking me to do things for them.

However, the only person with whom I should be angry is myself. The people asking are not the problem. I am the problem! I have the ability to decide when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” I choose to take on an extra task or commitment. I could easily make the choice to say no. I needed to understand that I could not say yes to everything and everyone and that eventually I was going to have to disappoint someone.

I knew my yes-addict behavior had to end. I mustered the courage to stand up and say “No More!” Of course, the first time I stepped out into my newfound courage, I was terrified, but I knew this yes-addict cycle could not continue. I wish I could say the person I chose to confront received my “no” without pushing back and disappointment, but that didn’t happen, and I had to be uncomfortably persistent. Once the person realized I wasn’t budging, she figured out another solution to her problem. Through this and other similar encounters with people, I was trying to take back my schedule and life. I realized that sometimes, even unintentionally, people will keep asking and taking from you if you let them. There comes a time when you need to say “NO.” Your dreams, your goals, your home life, and your sanity are too important not to.

Although my experience was very uncomfortable, the good news is that the more I said “no” to people, the easier it became. I now pick and choose what I commit myself to very carefully and make sure that there is some blank space in my schedule to take time for myself.

Here are a couple thoughts that I have been training myself to think when the temptation to be a yes addict arises. And let me tell you—the temptation arises often. Are you ready?

  1. I remind myself that people’s emergencies are not MY emergencies. It’s not my fault if they didn’t plan better or waited until the last minute, and now they are paying the price for their lack of preparedness.

  2. I know this one sounds harsh, but in the past I would take on everyone’s problems as my own. I think to myself, This problem sounds like insert person’s name here problem, not a Gabby Eckert problem. I need this reminder, because people need to take responsibility for their choices. The reality is I have enough problems of my own that I need to take care of.

  3. I stopped putting so much weight on people’s opinions of me. I came to grips with the fact it’s impossible to be liked by everyone and that it’s impossible to please everyone.

  4. I purposed to make the most important “yes” the yes I say to myself. I need to purposefully say yes to rest and relaxation. This one is important because it not only allows me to do the things that refresh my soul, but it allows me to better serve and give to others. For me, this looks like reading my bible, journaling, praying, taking my fur babies out for a walk, or spending quality time with my friends and family. I need that time to fill up my well so I can pour into others. I can’t give what I don’t put in.

I have experienced more joy and freedom in my life since I’ve shifted my mindset and have taken charge of this area in my life. Our time is a precious gift, and there is only so much of it in one day. I am not super woman, and neither are you. We cannot do ALL the things well. We cannot say “yes” to everything and everyone. We need to take saying “yes” to ourselves seriously so we can give to others from a healthy place. And when we do say our beautiful “yeses,” it will come from a heart of love and service—not from a place of worry and fear of rejection. It is impossible for me to live my best life as a yes addict. Amen?

Are you a recovering yes addict? If so, what steps have you taken to help change this area in your life?

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The "Yes" Addict by by Gabby Eckert

For more on this topic, I loved this book by Lysa Terkeurst. Get your copy below.

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