I am a textbook definition of wanting to please people, and saying "yes" always seems to do the trick. However, it is only minutes later that my anxiety picks up and I wonder why I said yes to something again. Then I feel guilty for even thinking of taking back my yes. Before I know it my brain and body are a chaos within each other.
Here's the thing: there is a healthy line.
It has taken me many years to understand that I was allowed to say "no." It did not make me less of a friend or human being to allow myself a little less chaos in my life.
I think the hardest realization to come to was within myself. I wanted to do this and that with everyone who ever asked, but my body and mind pleaded for me not to. So which do I side with? Thus the healthy line.
We have to be comfortable above all else, and in order to remain such, we need to understand what our mind and body are telling us. For me it comes almost instantly. I can say yes to a date, a trip, a new project and be instantly shell-shocked and regretful. The problem here is that it takes a little more work and insight to say no before that regret kicks in. It's not easy, but we are allowed to pause and ask ourselves whether it is what we want to do. We are then allowed to say no without the feeling of guilt reigning over us.
Now this does not mean we have an immediate excuse to hide in comfort zones for the rest of our lives, feeding our fears and anxiety. It simply means that we can't always be the people pleasers we expect ourselves to be. It means finding the balance between saying yes and saying no. Allowing ourselves time to process invitations and ideas and questions. It means planning ahead. Above all, it means allowing ourselves to feel comfortable in every decision and choice we make.
So learn to say no (gracefully).
If you are seeking to say no more often to friends and family, it may be easier to explain to them exactly why. Whether it be anxiety, depression, an illness, or the like, be comfortable expressing your needs with them. Bring them into your mind so that they can 1) understand, and 2) help you to the best of their ability.
It becomes a little tricker when saying no to colleagues, classmates and the sort, though. This is where we have to bring a little of that gracefulness in. Here we must learn how to say no in a way that makes us comfortable and also does not leave the other party assuming it is a personal vendetta.
The simplest of ways to confront this is to answer with a simple "let me get back to you," or "thank you so much, let me think about it!" Then if your answer does come back to a no, don't feel obligated to explain your brainwaves to them, but simply thank them for the invite and let them know that you will try and make the next one. The biggest thing here is not to simply rely on a quick yes to solve the problem of immediate anxiety, as that will most often lead to more anxiety like I explained earlier.
There are always going to be offers; whether they are a road trip, a movie date, grabbing drinks after work, teaming up on a project, etc. And where we would love to say "yes, absolutely" to every offer, we don't have to. We are allowed to say no. Whether it's because of a chaotic mind or simply because we want to stay in with some wine and popcorn, we are allowed to listen to ourselves and take time for ourselves.
The double-edge sword.
Shoot, once you get used to it, "no" becomes just as intoxicating as "yes".
So, get out there, challenge your anxiety and comfort zone, but remember to listen to and care for yourself.