How Do I Say No Without Feeling Bad

How do I say NO! Without feeling bad?

I hear this from many of my clients, and even my friends and family. How do I say No to someone I care about, and not feel guilty, or bad about it. Or in some cases, how do I deal with the very real possibility that they will be angry or upset with me if I do?

I feel like this question just points clearly to the lack of clarity and boundaries that most of us have grown up with. For the most part, families do not have the best practices of boundaries and consent. We all are scrambling around trying to get our needs met, and not really knowing how to do that in an empowered way.

For many people of our parents or grandparents generation, the gender and family roles were much more strictly defined by society. This often left a huge gap between an individual’s true desires and what they were ‘allowed’ to be or do. It often feels like we don’t have authority over our Yes’s and no’s.

In this state of disconnect, it is no wonder that something inside us feels hurt when we hear a No! We feel so trapped by our own definitions of what our roles are, that we project this onto those around us. In this case, we feel that others should do for us what WE feel is right, and we forget that those other people may have their own inner autonomy.

So if you ask someone for something and you hear a no, what do you feel? Do you feel unvalued? Unheard? Unimportant? Is that really true?

Is there another reality that might also be true? Are they honestly too busy, too tired, not able to do what you ask with a full heart? Can we hear the No as just a word, and not a rejection of ourselves? Is there someone else, or another way to meet our own need in the moment?

If we are willing to hear a No in a non-threatening way, we offer freedom to the other person, to answer us honestly. Their yes or no becomes more authentic, and we feel good about that. In the reverse, if we answer yes and no with no attachment to being ‘liked’ in the moment, but only from what comes honestly from our hearts, we offer the opportunity for the other person to trust our sincerity.

If we are able to say No with clarity and understanding, our Yes becomes very powerful also. People will come to know and trust you in a deeper way. This is a shift in relationship skills from the old way of obligation to a new way of authenticity. True intimacy and trust are built on this type of communication.

I have found that in learning and practicing this, I have not always had good reactions from people close to me. Sometimes there were a few minutes of protest at my new found boundaries. I had to be willing to let go of needing to be liked all the time. However, I can honestly say that after that short protest, IF I stayed in my truth and didn’t react, the other person became calm and even resourceful in finding another way to meet their need besides me.

I had gained my freedom. In this way, I also feel empowered to consider saying a full YES! When I do have the time, energy and resources to help someone out. I no longer blame others for taking my time and energy because I choose what I say yes and no to.

Freedom is a wonderful quality that comes as we allow our inner child to mature. We are no longer hiding behind whining and excuses. Wouldn’t relationships also be easier if we were more in our adult mode and allowed others to be in their maturity also?

This is my vision for truly phenomenal intimate relationships.

If you want to learn and practice these types of skills, working with an intimacy educator is the perfect place to start. You can book a free 30 minute consult with me through my website

With love,