Why Do I Say Yes When I Mean No

The answer to this question is buried deep in our personality type. For people who recognize a continual pattern of saying yes when they mean no, there is really only one answer.

Having worked in clinical settings for over twenty years and encountered every personality type and personality disorder known to man (and women) I have become familiar with a lesser known personality type that is characterized by a pathological compulsion to agree to everything. Most of us at some point say yes when we mean no. We perhaps want to go along with things to avoid conflict or make life a little easier for others, but if the truth be known we don’t really agree. There are however many people who are permanently at the sharp end of agreeing to everything, knowing full well that they want to say no, but just lack the simple ability to say it.

This characteristic is common in a personality diagnosis known to clinicians as Dependant Personality Type. It sounds a bit doomy but really just describes a certain type of person you probably know or have met at some point. It might even describe you. The other features of this personality type are:

Finding it difficult to make decisions
Finding it difficult to disagree with people
Volunteering to do things you don’t want to do that might even be unpleasant in order to seek praise or nurturance
Easily allows others to take responsibility
Doesn’t like being single and seeks another relationship quickly after one has finished

Sound familiar? These are all different pieces of the same puzzle.

Thousands of books have been written and hundreds of counselors and psychotherapists have spent untold hours trying to help people not be like this. The simple answer is that there is no cure. Short of a personality transplant, which thankfully the men in white coats have not quite got round to yet, our personality defines who we are, not the other way around.

If you don’t believe me try changing your sense of humour. Think of a comedy TV show that you really don’t find funny, and try your hardest to laugh. You have all the time in the world. If you succeed please do let me know and together we’ll revolutionize psychology. The chances are you won’t, in exactly the same way that you can’t help but agree to things when every fibre in your body is screaming out “no, no, no.”

So what next? Where’s the good news?

The good news is that you can learn to live with yourself better, and in so doing alleviate the problems associated with a permanent yes answer to the world. This is not as easy process. It needs a healthy measure of acceptance along with an ability to manipulate your environment to play to your strengths rather than your weakness.

Number one rule is don’t put yourself in the firing line. Don’t, for example, choose partners who are domineering or just into things that you are not. Don’t kid yourself that you can stand up to them, you wont. But you can avoid them in the first place.

Don’t place yourself in a working environment where you can be picked upon and bullied. If it’s happening to you right now just walk away. It won’t stop happening on its own. And lastly, keep it simple. Don’t over complicate things; don’t give yourself loads of difficult choices. Keep it simple, do whatever you enjoy doing and stick to it. Don’t feel that you have to prove that you are something you are not.

Try to accept yourself for who you are as it’s unlikely you will wake up tomorrow a completely different person. Decide to do things a bit differently and take yourself out of the firing line.