How to Say “No” and Mean It

You probably feel exhausted and resentful because others take advantage of your good nature and they demand way too much of you. They ask you for favors, ask you to volunteer, to have lunch, to watch their kids, help them with their project. It is their fault you feel so bad.


The real reason for exhaustion and resentment is because you want them to like you.  You want them to understand. You need their approval. You want these things so badly that you are willing to give up sleep, time to yourself, and fun with those you really prefer to be with.  Why is it so many of us struggle to say a good solid “no?”

Actually I have found three reasons why it can be so difficult to say “no.”

1. Fear of disappointing someone, (This will make her angry. We will get into an argument if I say no.)
2. No right to say “no.” ( You feel obligated and keep hearing the voice inside the head that says, you are not a good person if you say no, you aren’t as busy as everyone else etc.)
3. Fear of looking bad. (Everyone else says “yes” to volunteering at church. Or, I will look like I don’t have sympathy if I don’t chip in on the flower fund etc.) Saying “no” always invites a little judgment from others who also have a hard time saying “no.”

Here is what you must remember: every time you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. So my question is, when you say yes, to something you aren’t that passionate about what are you saying “no” to?
• Time with family
• Recreation
• Enough rest
• Your health
• Your integrity?

You see, when you say “yes” when you want to say “no” you are trading integrity for people pleasing. The problem is, you may look good on the outside, but you suffer inwardly. You have the right to say no, when you don’t agree, when you don’t want to participate in something, or when a boundary has been crossed.

The resistance is usually is all about how we think someone else will respond so we try to “rescue” them by saying “yes’ in order for them to respond the way we want them to.

The solution: Stop being attached to having others understand or agree. This doesn’t mean that you don’t care at all. What it does mean is you will have to deal with some manipulation, some pouting, and some game playing when you first change your habit of being a yes-man. This sounds simple on paper, but not always easy.

Many of us have been programmed to please others. As children, we were spanked, or criticized for being selfish. Old programming is difficult to break, and thus we operate out of our unconscious mind and do not know how to take responsibility for our choices.

If you are willing to be a bit uncomfortable at first, you will eventually break the pattern and your “no” will start to carry some weight. In the end, if you want your “no” to really mean something and to be clear, you have to give up the need for everyone to understand or agree. Otherwise your “no” will lack integrity and clarity and your “yes” will also be watered down. You have the right to say no, when you don’t agree, when you don’t want to participate in something, or when a boundary has been crossed. They have the right to pout, manipulate, present the silent treatment, and you can let them do what they need to do to express their displeasure at your new found sense of power. It is not your job to make sure everyone understands, or is happy with your “no.”