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Why It’s So Hard to Say No

How to say no

How to say noSaying no is a problem many of my clients struggle with. It is so hard, many people want me to help them figure out a way to not have to say no. As a result, my clients are sleep-deprived, depressed, anxious, resentful, and physically ill. This has got to stop.

First of all, we all have to say no. There is no way around this. There are so many obligations and requests that it is impossible to say yes to everything. Many requests have to be turned down, simply because there isn’t time to do everything. So let’s all agree on that. We’re going to have to say no. Now, why is it so hard?

Sometimes it is hard to say no because….

  • We really want to say yes.
    • We want to help out with the Halloween carnival at school. We think it would be fun. Our mothers never did, and we want to be able to give our children some wonderful memories we wish we had.
  • We are afraid we will “miss out” on something.
    • We are also afraid that if we say no we will be left out of other things we might want to do.
  • We have been trained to think of the needs (and wants) of others first…
    • and we “should” help out, and if we didn’t we would feel so “guilty”. (Believe me, no one is going to die because you didn’t man the cakewalk.)
  • We are not in touch with ourselves enough to know what we would like to do instead.
    • And so it is just “easier” to let other people structure our lives for us.
  • We do not realize we can do it in a kind and gracious manner.

And the biggie…sometimes we are afraid to say no because we so want to be liked, and if we say no, people are not going to be happy with us, and they may not like us, and they may disapprove, and they may judge, and OH NO! This is part of socialization, and I’m not trying to discount this, but no one is going to feed you to the polar bears even if they decide they don’t like you (especially if you live in the South – it would be too expensive to ship you up to the Arctic Circle.)