Yes and No – The Only Two Words You Will Ever Need

yes and no hands
The sense of impending doom was unbearable; I felt trapped, unable to escape the horror that would surely engulf my existence.

Every minute that passed felt like an hour; it always does when you have nowhere to go.

My time was almost up and I could feel the adrenaline flow through my veins…

You see, in situations like this you think about weird subjects. A memory from your childhood or a funny joke you once heard – trivial thoughts that don’t seem to make much sense given the current scenario, yet what entered my mind was at this point was something a little more… bizarre.

“There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.”

I drifted off into a fantasy land. A world in which my current plight was non-existent, yet simmering under the surface, waiting to jolt me back to reality. But for now, I was distracted by a message;

“Feed me a stray cat”…

What did this mean?

I heard the unmistakable whirring sound of a police siren – I span round, took aim and fired. Initially I thought I missed but unfathomably, the car exploded.

I stared at my gun, confused – but it was time to run.

So I ran…

“Jamie Flexman?”

This was the jolt!

I looked up, and to my horror… it was time to go.

So I went…

feed me a stray cat

Don’t worry; I always think about strange things whilst waiting to be called in for a job interview.

You’re probably wondering what this, and plot points from ‘American Psycho’ has got to do with ‘yes’ and ‘no’…

Absolutely nothing at all, so let’s move on shall we?

Yes and no – the only two words you will ever need.

Ok let’s get started. Of course I’m not suggesting that you ditch your entire vocabulary apart from these two words. You try ordering a hot chocolate down your local Costa fortune with the vernacular of a cave dweller… it’s just not going to work. But, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are extremely important, especially given how useless most of us are at using them correctly.

All of your life’s decisions are based on these two simple words. You either do something, or you don’t.’ Yes’ will lead you onto one path and ‘no’ will lead you towards the other, it’s pretty simple really. The question is – are you saying the right word at the right time?

I personally think it’s quite amusing how we get these two words totally mixed up. We always set out with best intentions but somehow we end up saying yes to the things we don’t want to do and no to all the good shit. We all do it – you’ve probably even done it today, maybe without realising.

Your boss will ask you to come into work on your day off or to stay on and do a bit of overtime because that lazy ass new guy in your office has skived off again. You automatically say yes because it’s an involuntary response to being a greedy git. The money monster rears its ugly head and guides you towards the dark side, only to resent the bloody thing when it dawns on you that you have given up a nice warm bed for a few measly pennies in the bank.

“This is the last time” – you tell yourself, without any sense of conviction whatsoever.

Saying yes, when we really want to say no

Just like the above example, we say yes a hell of a lot when we are actually straining to say the complete opposite. Sometimes we do it because we don’t want to offend others, like the horrifying occasion when someone asks to have a sip of our drink. We hand it over begrudgingly knowing full well that there isn’t enough bleach in the world that could scrub off their leprosy ridden drool from around the bottle neck. But we still allow it to happen.

Thanks for that, now buy your own you cheap bastard.

We could be borderline masochists. We could just be a bunch of really nice people, who knows, maybe both?

Think of all the times in your life when you’ve ended up doing something you could have easily hidden away from just because of your inability to say no. Like the friend who took advantage of your good nature by ‘borrowing’ what seems like half of your life’s savings and of course, not paying it back. Or saying yes when asked out by that spotty kid in class just because you’re worried about offending his face.

And now you’re married – see, what did I tell you?

Saying no, when we really want to say yes

Usually, saying yes to everything won’t ruin your life and when used correctly it can lead to some cool unexpected situations but the flip side to that are the times we turn down pretty much everything that comes our way. Unless you’ve been asked to drive a getaway vehicle or become a Chilean drug mule then it’s a safe bet that you should be saying ‘yes’  a little more often.

Generally speaking the good stuff takes us out of our comfort zone and that’s where the resistance lies. I’ve done it so many times it’s a wonder I even have social skills. I went through a long phase of turning down invitations to nights out, parties and activities that I actually wanted to get involved in but I was lazy.

I still am. But enough about me; let’s move on.

Have you ever rejected the chance to do something magical and exciting because you’re scared of leaving your comfort zone? When you look up the word ‘spontaneity’ in the dictionary does it just sit there on its page, mocking you for being such pathetic, boring old fart?  Do you cower into the fetal position, breaking into a cold sweat and calling out for your mummy when someone tries to drag you out of the house?

Yep you’ve got a severe case of the ‘Idontwannadoititis’.

How to get better at making the right decisions

Usually I tell my guitar students that thinking too much is dangerous and to stop it immediately. Unless they are thinking about paying me, then I encourage them like you wouldn’t believe, but anyway; bad decision making is probably the result of not thinking the consequences through.

People who are 100% impulsive usually end up sharing a prison cell with a cross dressing monolith whereas those who are 100% methodical are happily sat in their mothers basement playing with their train set.

What you want is a happy medium – the ability to assess your current situation, the offer presented and to weigh up the risk versus the reward.

For example, if you’re asked to do something that you really don’t want to do, firstly ask yourself if it is sufficiently important that YOU do it. If not then it’s ok to allow it to go to someone else. Like the overtime scenario earlier; is your boss asking you to stay late because he really needs your skills or are you just the first person he saw?

Learning when to say no to something that makes you uncomfortable is quite difficult but it’s an important skill to have. Often modern life is stressful enough as it is and our free time is getting harder to come by so why waste time and effort doing the things you don’t want to do?

On the other hand, saying yes to the things that we know will improve our lives is scarier, but thankfully, easier to do, simply because we know we will enjoy the outcome. Anything is easier if it’s enjoyable.

Forget about your little comfort zone, it will always be there to protect you if you really need it but from now on, pretend it doesn’t exist.

To turn a yes into a no – simply ask yourself if you really need to be doing it or if there is something else you’d rather be doing instead.

To turn a no into a yes – simply use your gut instinct and ask yourself if there is a chance you might be missing out on having a good time.

You may have noticed a similar theme there. Using ‘yes’ and ‘no’ the right way will always lead to a happier, more fun life.

Try it out, see what happens!


What have you said yes or no to recently that you wish you hadn’t?  Are you a yes person?

Please let me know in the comments.

As always, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your social media using the little buttons below or on the left.

Say YES – you know you want to 🙂

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About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm - Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!


  1. Thanks for mentioning my article, Jamie! I went way outside of my comfort zone recently and it’s scary as shit, but it’s so worth it. The conversations, the brainstorm sessions, and the brutal metaphorical ass-kickings I’ve had in the past few days alone have made it more than worth it.

    Say yes more often to what makes your heart hurt.
    Vincent recently posted..5 Paralyzing Fears You Have to Ignore (If You Want to Expand Your Comfort Zone)My Profile

    • Hey, no problem! yeh I remember you saying you flew outside of the US for the first time, alone. That requires mega balls! Good on you for doing that!

  2. Hi Jamie,

    Excellent post, written in a very creative way.

    Your post got me thinking of the fundamental way we seem to move around the world in. If we’re living a poor quality of life, then unconsiously we’ve said “yes” to this. Instead, we can say “no” to living like this and say “yes” to living the lives we want and say “yes” to welcoming the empowering beliefs that will serve us in life.

    Thank you.
    Hiten recently posted..What State Are You In?My Profile

    • Hey, thanks!

      I wrote a post a while ago titled something like ‘you deserve everything you get’ which discuses this idea. Most of our life is simply a sum of our choices. You’re right that we can change this at anytime by simply saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Thanks for dropping by Hiten!

  3. In my life, it all comes down to respect. I came to realize that if I don’t speak up, I will hate myself. How can you live with yourself if you don’t respect yourself?

    The people around me will also respect me a lot more if I tell them how I truly feel. No one admires some one who is pushed around. Those thought alone push me so hard to always express my true feelings.
    SebAstian recently posted..Fear Of Failure… Screw ThatMy Profile

    • I think there is a fine line between being totally honest and only saying the things that need to be said. It’s staying on this line whilst keeping your integrity that I feel is the key.

  4. Thank you so much Jamie for this article! It’s very true and helpful. I’ve got a problem with my assertiveness. I keep saying yes to people and end up being used by them. I know that your article is about much more than just this but that’s just one of my thought.

    • Well, that’s kind of what the article is about – our inability to say the correct word for the given situation. If you need to work on saying no more often then that’s something to work towards. You can practice by saying no to cold-callers or sales people, then progress from there as you gain confidence. It’s also easier to say no to people we don’t know or dislike. Friends are always the hardest because we don’t want to hurt their feelings, but at the same time, you can’t allow them to hurt you either. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Great thoughts! I use to have a hard time saying no to people. But over the past few years I’ve learned that I must say no in order to do the things I need to do that will allow me to reach my dreams (Full time writer and speaker). It’s important to say no to the average/good so that we can say yes to the best.

  6. Nice post Jaime,

    I think using the black and white approach is the best way as people are too indecisive about what they want from their lives and how to live it. As a result, people end up living mediocre lives.

    It’s far better to simply make a decision and then confirm whether you’ll do it or not. This also applies to requests from people as well.

    I think when you live your life like that, it will seem far more straight forward, you will get more stuff done, have less regrets and more importantly, gain the respect and trust from the people around you due to staying true to your word.

    • Hi Onder, that is an interesting approach to living. But like you say, it takes away the element of doubt and procrastination, which generally leads to unhappiness and a feeling of being stuck. It’s the ‘just do something’ principle.

      Thanks for your insight!

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