The Power of Saying NO

I remember watching a movie with Jim Carey called yes man in which the main character Carl Allen (Jim Carey) goes to a seminar that is all about the power of saying yes in your life. From that point on he says yes to everything that is requested of him by other people. The movie is very funny and tries to bring across the point that saying no to much out of fear keeps you from being open to the possibilities that life has to offer. 

What I find interesting about the storyline of this movie and how it relates to life is that in many cases we can struggle to say no as much as or more then we struggle to say yes. In many cases saying yes can be a people pleasing habit that we get stuck in because we are afraid of upsetting people, losing their approval or not gaining their approval. We can also say yes to much when we are afraid of missing out or not fitting in with others. 

There are many different fears that can cause us to say yes to something when we clearly feel that no is the right answer. Not being able to say no when you mean no can become a very emotionally destructive habit that erodes our sense of integrity, authenticity and self-worth. It is destructive because whenever we make a decision to say yes to someone in a situation where we intuitively feel that we should say no, we diminish our sense of self-respect and integrity to our values.

Most decisions that we make from this place don’t work out well because we intuitively know that we went against the grain of our values and who we are. When we make decisions that go against our values and inner guidance, we devalue who we are and the values we stand for as a unique individual. We also set ourselves up for holding deep resentment towards others and disappointment towards ourselves for saying yes to something that isn’t in our best interest or the interests of the person that we say yes to. 

One of my own personal experiences of this comes from the first few years I spent working as a horse trainer. When I started out, I had a number of experiences with horses where I got hurt because I ignored my intuition telling me no. Each time I had a clear message from my intuition saying no and I ignored it which resulted in me falling off and hurting myself. The lesson I eventually learned was that I was trying too hard to please people and therefore I would promise things that were to much of stretch for me. This caused me to put too much pressure on myself and essentially say yes to things when my intuition and my body clearly informed me that I needed to say no. After making this mistake a number of times, I eventually learned the importance of listening to my intuition and saying no when I felt a no. Having this experience with horses was also a catalyst for me to examine all of the other areas in my life where I was saying yes when I intuitively felt I needed to say no. As I listened to my intuition, I started to feel a new level of self-respect and self-value that I had not felt before. 


Strategies for accessing the power of No

Recognising when you feel a no in your body

A great strategy for noticing when you should say no is to recognise when you feel a no in your body. Your body’s intuition has a great sense for knowing what is right for you, but to access it you have to practice tuning in to your inner guidance. This may involve taking some time to look at the emotions and beliefs that are preventing you from listening to your intuition. You will always find that there will be conflicting beliefs and emotions that cause you to ignore your intuition. 

Getting clear on your values so you can sense when it is necessary for you to say no.

Its also important to remember that your intuition has a lot to do with your values. Getting clear on what your values are helps you sense what requests from others are the right ones to say yes to and what ones you should say no to. Spending time clarifying the values that you want to fulfil in your interactions with others will allow you to have more confidence to say no if the outcome doesn’t meet your values. 

Giving yourself more time

Another great strategy is to give yourself at least a few seconds to feel your intuition on what is right for you. Giving yourself a few seconds with a brief pause will allow you to connect to your intuition and allow it to guide your response in that moment. This can also act as a pattern interrupt if you notice you are about to say yes when you inwardly sense that no is the right answer for you. A few seconds also allows you recognise when you are being pressured overwhelmed by emotions so that you can ground yourself or give yourself more time to feel what is right for you. 

Asking for more time

Another great strategy is to wait for more information or to ask for more time to make a decision. This can take the pressure off and give you time to consider your values and feel what is right for you. In many cases we put to much pressure on ourselves to make fast decisions without considering if this is right for us. You might also feel as though you are being pressured by others to make a decision which can often be because the person or people you are interacting with are emotionally triggered, fearful and trying to coerce you or manipulate you into saying yes. These situations can be the situations when saying no can be hard because we feel that we will be judged and ostracized for not caving into the pressure of others. This is why it is so important to own the power of no in situations when our sense of dignity and self-respect are being tested. Saying no when you feel a no will lead you to develop a much greater sense of self respect, dignity, confidence and self-worth in your interaction with others. 

How to say no when you feel a no

I like to use the “thank you but no thank you” approach as a basic format starting point for saying no particularly in situations where you want to maintain a mutual respect for each other. When you say no and start by thanking the person for the for the offer or request and then say no you can in many cases maintain a compassionate and respectful connection to the person you say no to. If the original no is challenged, you can then gradually make the no more assertive and direct if needed. Even in situations where you know that your no will not be received well by someone, using the thankyou but no thankyou format will help you stay calm, centred, respectful and connected to your bodies intuition while saying no. 

from a non-verbal communication point of view people will respond better when we stay connected to our power and intuition while saying no and setting a boundary. The non-verbal element is vital because when we are mentally, emotionally and physically present and connected to ourselves people will respond differently than when we are disconnected and off centre mentally, emotionally and physically. Practicing being completely present and connecting to your body when you say no will give you the ability to fully own the power of no.  

Saying no is one of the many powerful elements of communication in relationships that can be difficult to navigate. When it is consciously practiced and developed as a skill, it allows us to reclaim our self-respect, dignity and sense of self-worth in our relationships with others. When we become an example and actively nurture our sense of self-respect and self-worth give permission for others to do the same.  

If you would like to experience my work, then join me at one of my up and coming workshops or book a one on one EFL session

Please comment below and share your own experience of having the courage to say no, I would love to hear your story! 

Please share this article with people that you know would benefit from it! 

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