Yes - No - Yes

Photo by  Pez González  on  Unsplash

Dear Wise One,

About those Jam Jars
There are two specialized Jars that need your attention:
#1 What You Value
#2 Relationships
Relationships, at any age,
Friendly or Romantic,
need to be mutual and trusting.
They need to support you
with warmth, care, and respect.
Your relationships need to bring
enjoyment and growth into your life.
In other words, a healthy relationship
does not pull you down, silence you,
or encourage you to act against what you value. 

For Relationships to do this
you need to name for yourself
what you are looking for
in a friend or romantic partner
and how you want to be treated.
The best part of this is that you get to know yourself better.
You may think you know what you value
but it becomes concrete and more a part of you
to actually name what is important to you. 

What is important to you in a friend or a romantic partner?
Trustworthiness? Humor? Good Looks?
Depth? Intelligence? Kindness?
Fun-loving? Adventurous? Serious?
Good dancer? Must ski? Kisses well?
As you can see not all qualities may appeal to you.

How do you want to be treated?
Friends and Loves in healthy relationships
encourage each other’s dreams and efforts
and support each other
in times of distress or disappointment.
Of course, there will be missteps in relationships
a healthy relationship does not intentionally
control, intimidate, or mistreat.
What treatment will you say yes to?
Do those hold to your values?
What treatment will you say no to?
Being able to say No can strengthen a relationship.
It certainly will make it more real.
To be able to say No,
you need to know what you want to say Yes to.
That’s where your values come in
including the value of taking care of yourself. 

You can say ‘No’ kindly and without hurting the relationship
if the relationship is of good-will and mutual.
The tone of your voice is important.
But the most important relationship not to hurt
is the relationship with yourself and what is meaningful to you. 

Dr. Lisa Damour has created a technique to help with this:
When we say ‘No’,
we are trying to get to something else we want to say ‘Yes’ to.
1st Yes:
The first Yes is silent.
It is a silent decision by you
what it is you really want to do.
It is the ‘something else’
you really want to say yes to. 

The No:
If you say No,
it’s because you are trying
to get to the something else you want to do.

2nd Yes:
The second Yes is
an alternative
you offer of what you can do instead.

For example:
You were asked to go to a movie but you need time to study.
1st Yes:
Silently identify what is best for you,
what you really want to do.
It is quite legitimate to say you will get back to them
to give yourself time to think.

The No:
“Thank you, but I’m not going to be able to go. I need time to study.”

2nd Yes:
“After the test, I would like to find a time to get together. “ 

You don’t have to be fully transparent.
If you think your ‘No’ won’t be respected,
you can simply say
“Thank you for thinking of me, but unfortunately, I’ve got plans.”
Full disclosure is not required.
You have a right to your boundaries and to your time.


Another scenario
could find you on a couch
with an overactive boyfriend. 
1st Yes:
Identify what you really want to do.
(Remember Cinderella left the Ball before it got too late.)
The No:
“This looks like it could be fun but I’m not in the mood.”
2nd Yes:
“Maybe we could dance…or I could just go home.”
His response will tell you a lot about the relationship.
Always have an exit strategy.  

So, dear Wise One
open up those two important Jam Jars.
Identify what you value in your life…
what makes you, you.
Name for yourself, make official for yourself
how you want to be treated
by your friends and those who love you. 

Enjoy your relationships
with your Friends, Loves, and
most importantly, Yourself.
And continue to grow
those Jam Jars!
Love to you,


PS For Reference:

Under Pressure: Confronting The Epidemic Of Stress And Anxiety In Girls.
Lisa Damour, Ph.D. Ballantine Books. 2019.

Mark BaumannComment