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How to Say "No" Without Feeling Guilty


Don't be afraid to say "No." Your relationship depends on it!

Do you have a hard time saying “No”? Do you struggle with even getting the words out of your mouth? You say what you think the other person wants to hear, agree to something you'd rather not do or completely lie to them to avoid saying what you really want to? This happens in all areas of life, from dating to the homeless person on the street begging for money. Why is it so hard for people to just say, “No?” 

We're social creatures and our behavior is based on people liking and accepting us. We create the persona of the nice person, the "good" girl or boy. The generous person, the kind, sweet, responsible one — the list goes on and on to reflect the facade of likability. You argue that it isn't desirable to be a good person that people like? Sure it is. But if you're lying and just pretending to be a good person, you're being manipulative which isn’t good for you or them. Dating is an excellent opportunity to say “No, thank you.” You've been on a number of dates where they ask you out again and you aren’t interested. Instead of saying "No," you avoid them by saying “sure” but don’t mean it or make up some crazy lie about leaving the country for a few months and you'll be sure to check back when you return. Sound familiar?

How many times has someone avoided being straight with you? They've led you on or made you think they were interested when they weren’t. You think they're a jerk or a bitch. Well, it's possible they were just afraid of saying, “No, thank you” because they wanted to come across as a nice person. The reason we struggle so much with the word “No” is because it makes us feel guilty. We feel terrible rejecting people in dating or telling a friend that we really don’t want to watch their dog while they're on vacation. There is a pressure that we should be what people expect of us and, above all, don't disappoint anyone.

The guilt comes from our assumption of how we feel when someone says “No” to us. Our mind makes up stories that we aren’t that important or lovable or that person would have said “Yes.” We personalize the “No’s” given to us and make them mean something more than just “No.” The guilt then turns into anger because you project that onto the person who put you in this situation. You're mad at yourself and them. Again, not so nice. You create a lot of anger in your shadow.

To make an empowered “No” without guilt, you must learn to accept the “No’s” you hear without judgment on your personal value. Applaud those who stand up for themselves and keep strong boundaries. Don’t condemn them as being mean or rigid but instead, as someone who has a good backbone and willing to step out into not being liked to take care of them selves. Being liked by everyone is exhausting. There's so much pressure to please and you turn into a wet rag that is tossed around by the external world — floppy and inconsistent. A wet rag isn’t very attractive and makes everyone feel insecure. You don’t really know who you are if you are too busy pleasing the world and turning yourself into a pretzel to avoid just saying, “No, thank you.”

 You don’t have to go to the extreme of being rude, but you want to find that balance between keeping your boundaries and being way too generous and resentful. You must believe that saying “No” to requests inspires others to stand up for their values and boundaries. You demonstrate what it means to be certain of who you are and they learn from you. You're never going to get everyone to like you, so relax. Just be yourself, be transparent and then your real friends will appreciate your honesty and authenticity. You'll also find a man or woman who truly respects and loves you because you are respecting and loving yourself.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.


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