How to say “no” and still love yourself and be loved

Saying “no” can be difficult if fear or guilt comes up at the thought of saying it. It can be a fear of not being liked anymore by the other person. Or it could be fears that they will think you don’t like them. But saying yes to something that you do not want can create a drop in self-esteem, because you are not honouring your own needs. But you can say “no” and still love yourself and be loved.

Tell the truth.  Making up excuses for why you are saying “no” just leads to deceit, and most likely, the other person will be able to tell that you are not being completely truthful.  For example, if someone you are not very close to asks you to babysit for her over the weekend but you don’t want to because you planned to have a quiet weekend in, it might not be a good idea to say you’ll be away for the weekend. They might ask you how the trip went, and realise that you were untruthful. Even if you get away with it, it might set a habit of deceit in the future or make you feel guilty. Instead, it is better to tell the truth in a loving way, perhaps such as: “I’ve actually made plans this weekend, I’m afraid.” Or something similar you can think of that fits your situation. You don’t have to go into detail; the key is to be assertive and truthful.

An alternative you might want to use instead is “I would love to help, if you would,  but I’m not available at that time.” You do not owe anyone an explanation – you have the right to decide how you spend your time. People respect those who occasionally say “no”, because someone who always says yes can sometimes come across as a bit of a pushover.

If you want to say “no” but you are available, and are finding it difficult to let the other person down, a simple way to answer is “I can’t help at the moment, I’m sorry.”  It’s important to be firm when saying this, otherwise you may be asked again to see if you will give in.

By saying “no” when you need to, you are saying “yes” to yourself. You are giving yourself love. You are honouring your needs first, which in the long run will be much more helpful to others, because you will be rejuvenated after you take the time to look after yourself. Doing things out of obligation leads to resentment, which will grow if you continue to ignore your needs.

Be discerning about when to say “no” – if your intuition is clearly telling you to, listen to it. Notice the feelings in your body as you contemplate your options. Follow what feels good to you.


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