I used to really struggle with saying no. I didn’t know how to say no.
I felt like if I ever said no, it meant that I wasn’t a positive person coming from a place of a “YES-to-life!” attitude. I also felt like the universe would never allow me to attract anything good if I didn’t stay positive and be open to any and all possibilities (even if I knew deep down, that it wasn’t the right avenue for me). I have never felt more psychologically checkmated, insecure, and miserable. For 24 years, I did not know how to say no.
The guilt was debilitating whenever I said no. Partly because I was a people pleaser and partly because I hated myself.
Sometimes, I would start to hint at a no and then, feel so awkward/guilty/wrong, that I would just fold. Like a tent. Every.single.time.
You will always have a hard time saying no as long as the f*cks you give about how you are perceived outweigh the f*cks you give about yourself.
I hated myself for not having control over being able to express (and act on) my own wants and needs.
This prevented self-respect, emotional intelligence, dignity, happiness, and an emotional backbone from ever having a chance to survive.
And because I had nothing to build on, I convinced myself that my only purpose, whether it be with friends or lovers, was to build UP other people.
If you don’t have an emotional life of your own, your limits and standards will always be up for negotiation. You are no longer the C.E.O of Y.O.U. You devolve from the vessel you were born as, to a flailing origami boat in the water – intricately built but so easily destroyed.
The most successful companies have rock-solid terms and conditions that are always adhered to for a reason.
What are your terms and conditions?
If you don’t have any, you will have a problem saying no.
When you fly by the seat of your emotional pants, everyone will start to notice that their shoes could use a little cleaning. You then become “useful.” And as fun as it is to have a bunch of people around, you don’t realize until it’s too late that the exploitative joke is on you. You’ve been the communal doormat all along.
You then, feel so badly about yourself that you start to equate being needed (used), with being wanted and appreciated.
And just like a literal doormat, because you’ve been an emotional doormat for so long, the insecurity you feel over the accumulated filth, dirt, and psychological stench of others starts to cripple you.
You then begin apologizing for:
- Setting boundaries.
- Enforcing standards.
- Having a voice.
- Having an opinion.
- Having limits.
- Having questions.
- Having a need for clarification.
- Having standards.
- Breathing air.
I felt useless and disgusting from being the doormat that the psychological dirt of others was wiped on. And instead of getting clean, I overcompensated by becoming a perpetual YES person.
I did this as a way to detract from the unbearable filth I had accumulated. Whenever I said yes, it was like using hand sanitizer that made me feel temporarily clean but ultimately, left me feeling like I needed to “wash off” even more so than before.
Like always attracts like. I was attracting circumstances, situations, events, and relationships that continued to doormat me as much as I continued to doormat myself.
And as much as I genuinely hated being a doormat, at least it was familiar territory that I took comfort in the predictability of. My heart could not handle banking on anything in which the outcome was uncertain – like knowing how to say no and backing it up with dignified, white-horse action.
If only I would have known the power of saying no.
If you struggle with knowing how to say no, here’s everything you need to know…
What I’ve learned about saying no:
- The sky won’t fall.
- As long as you don’t like, love or respect who you are, you will always feel guilty about saying no. It never feels good to stick up for someone that you don’t like, love or respect. This is why guilt infiltrates; you know you are wasting your own time.
- The word and backed up action of “no,” is the strongest of all your boundaries.
- The Universe and karma do not “get back at” people who do bad things. If they did, I would probably be 6 feet under at this point or incarcerated; maybe institutionalized. I definitely would not be writing this post. The universe will only punish and karma will only come back around to those who do bad things and do not learn from them. As long as you genuinely evolve, adapt, grow, and connect by having the courage to evolve OUT of bad decisions, you will be rewarded in spades.
- Confusing the idea of being a positive person with an inability to say no is like believing that you are an Eskimo just because you’re standing in the snow.
- The harder it is for you to say no, the deeper your self-doubt, misery, stress, and insecurities will run.
- Before you can master the art of saying no, you have to clearly define what it is you are saying yes to by saying and acting on no (read that a few times until it really sinks in).
- If you have a hard time saying no, you are probably more concerned about emotional political correctness than you are with having an identity. PC is boring. Yes, having a unique identity is food for the easily offended. But as long as it’s rooted in empathy, inclusion, understanding, and kind honestly (never brutal), it’s interesting.
- Not everyone will agree with or like your no’s but they will respect how high you set your standards. And remember – everything sold at a discount is boring because THERE’S ALREADY an abundance of it. Stop trying to convince yourself that there’s an abundance of you. There is only ONE.
- Successful businesses, relationships, and emotional lives cannot coexist with an inability to say no.
- Saying no means nothing unless it’s backed up by dignified action.
- Say yes enough times when you mean no and your body will start to say no to you. Contradiction truly is the root of all misery, illness, and disease.
Learning how to say no changed my life.
I started saying no to toxic relationships and people who were not right for me – even if I was related to them.
I started to say no to everything that I knew deep down, I didn’t want to do.
I made a promise to myself to 1) never have a boss again 2) never come to the relational, professional, and emotional table hungry 3) never come to that table without the leverage I had from lessons learned.
I built my business shortly thereafter, while I was Uber driving to support myself, and kept building from there until I didn’t need to Uber anymore.
Sure, I still get triggered, heartbroken, insecure and scared, but it doesn’t take me down any longer. The shame is gone. I used to have an entire scroll of things that needed to be checked off in order for me to be happy. Now, it takes much less because the power of no has allowed me to be my own emotional banker.
10 things that you need to learn how to say no to NOW:
- Just say no to drama, gossip, toxic people, contradiction, functional dysfunction, emotional bed sh*tters, liars, and emotional vampires. Just say no to people who break your trust.
- Just say no to the self-limiting story that you’ve chosen to subscribe to.
- Just say no to anyone who makes you feel like loving you is hard.
- Just say no to anyone who feels like they should receive a gold star for being honest, respectful, empathetic, and following through. These tenets should come with adulthood, not selectively come because your legs open if they do.
- Just say no to any person, situation, or relationship that makes you question your worth.
- Just say no to anyone who doesn’t value your time.
- Just say no to your triggers. They are not your truth.
- Just say no to cheap revenge. Be kind, have your own back always, and let people go in peace.
- Just say no to anyone or anything that makes you question your worth – including your own belief system.
- Just say no to the disease to please.
And lastly, just say no to being anything other than yourself.
You got this.
Written by: Natasha Adamo