“No!” 3 Reasons Why We Don’t Say No

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2012 at 2:56 am


There are many reasons for us to not answer someone in the negative, and these reasons are complex, deep and have roots that twist and tangle back into the depths of our hearts and minds such that we often lose touch with the real reasons for complying more than denying requests. Right now I will lay down 3 reasons that are quite common and explain why it may be healthier to allow ourselves the opportunity to use this powerful, self-affirming little word.

1. We want people to like us and accept us: If I don’t go bowling with everyone they might not accept me, and probably won’t ask me to hang out again in the future…  This one  is based in the fear of not being accepted, liked, and loved. The truth is, when you love yourself no matter what (see my blog Lover), other people will automatically sense your comfort and ease with yourself. This energy is highly magnetic and people won’t be able to stop loving you and being around you.

2. We don’t want to miss out: If I don’t go bowling I might miss out on a lot of fun… Despite not enjoying the activity of bowling, you think you might still have a good time because your friends are there. This idea of missing out is again fear-based and linked to self-worth. If I missed this event, even if it was fun, would my friends not think we were very close any more because we didn’t share this experience together? Would this lead to more drifting apart? And finally to a loss of friendship and someone to affirm my existence by accepting me into their circle of friends and family? Can you see how this can spin out of control. Reading it here, I hope, shows the meaninglessness of this cycle.

3. We put others’ needs above our ownEnter any mother, father or care-giver: I’ll just take care of my child’s running nose/stained shirt/messy floor/dirty dishes, before I eat my lunch.  With demands on us from other human beings who are dependent upon us for almost everything, it is easy and sometimes expected that we eschew our own needs until the needs of others are met. In its proper and timely place, I agree with this. But, it seems this is an epidemic that consumes the need for so many mothers who are running on fumes and suffering from the early onset of degenerative diseases, heightened cortisol levels that don’t allow for deep and restful sleeps to restore the body and mind, for employees overstressed in precious jobs doing their utmost to out-perform their peers and even themselves week to week, in order to avoid being laid off, to place another’s health before our own… Again, this leads back to fear; a fear that if we don’t do this thing for someone else first, then they won’t like me, they will fire me, they’ll think I am a bad mother.

In the end, SAYING no is as much self-preservation as NOT saying no might feel! In Nia, when we dance with the martial arts using forceful kicks, punches and blocks, we shout words such as “No!” I am often startled at my own force and volume when I really let the air in my lungs shoot out with my fists. I think I respect my own inner wishes and say no when I mean it, but the release of shouting it loudly along with an empowering and strengthening movement makes me feel all the pent up moments that I wish I could say no, being released. Instances of work-related duties and such, is an example where we may have to accept some task or request we would otherwise decline. Nevertheless! Those ‘nos’ need to be released and my favourite way to do that is in a Nia class. Regular Nia practice (3 times a week or more) not only provides excellent physical fitness training and muscle conditioning, but also mental and emotional house-cleaning. I get to shake out the sheets of my thoughts and high-kick the carpets of my heart until all the dust is dislodged and the beautiful patterns and designs re-emerge clear and brilliant once more.

Allow yourself more opportunities to practice saying no. Even if you have the intention to comply, just say no, see how it feels, and then say yes if it’s truly something that you cannot ignore. The fun bit is seeing how the no sits in your body immediately after saying it.


Share your comments below about your experiences, and share this blog with others to keep the conversation going.

  1. This is very insightful and very true. I find that I used to have trouble saying no, but as I’ve gotten healthier and moved away from abusive relationships (of all kinds), I find saying “no” easier and easier. My health comes first, so if I feel that it won’t be emotionally or physically healthy for me to do something, there is no reason to agree to do it!

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