Have you ever considered that No is a complete sentence? You don’t have to explain or justify yourself when you say no! Don’t believe it? Then you might be someone who fills your life with yeses, commas, and explanations. You may rarely end your response with a no that is followed by a period or an exclamation point. You might avoid telling the other person that you’ll get back to them later. In other words, you may have a boundary problem.
However, the God-given right to voice our opinions is a high distinction of being human. When we don’t speak our choices, especially our noes, our true self fades away. Our identity begins to erode. Therefore, a simple no is okay to say, and it’s time you got comfortable with it!
It’s hard to say no
There are probably some underlying reasons why it’s hard for you to say no when confronted with certain questions and decisions. Maybe you believe that saying yes to everything is kind or self-sacrificial. After all, Scripture tells us to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You might (mis)apply the acronym JOY (Jesus, Others, and Yourself), and that keeps you from saying no. Everyone wants a yes, or so you may think.
Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician, author, and speaker, suggests that an inability to say no may go back to underdeveloped childhood needs of attachment and authenticity. Attachment draws people together so they can be cared for, and authenticity refers to being in touch with oneself. If you don’t have a secure attachment and/or you’re not connected with your true self, if might be hard to say no.
Not enough no in your life can hurt you
God designed our bodies to let us know when we have gotten off track in any area. Abnormal amounts of stress tell us when we are off course. Webster’s Dictionary defines stress as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.” Maté says the body will eventually rebel against our inability or unwillingness to give healthy noes. He validates the idea that not saying no may show up as stress in our bodies. Not being able to say no can cause various manifestations of stress, such as:
- emotional stress evidenced by suppression or explosion of emotions
- physical stress evidenced by sickness that medication alone does not treat
- financial stress that shows up in repeatedly overdrawn bank accounts
- relational stress resulting in increased conflict and decreased ability to communicate acceptance and safety
Get in touch with why you can’t say no
If you can understand why it’s hard to say no, it’ll be easier to learn to say no. Maté gives several key questions to ask yourself when you struggle to say no:
1. Where in your life are you not saying no?
2. What is the impact of you not saying no?
3. What is your hidden belief behind not saying no?
4. Who would I be if I learned to say a healthy no?
5. Where do I need to say a healthy yes?
Knowing the answer to these questions will make it easier for you to say no intentionally.
Without the ability to say no, you lose yourself
Saying yes to others all the time may make them happy. However, it may also slowly cause you to look to others for your sense of self-worth and approval. Eventually, you may wake up one day, look in the mirror, and realize you don’t know the person staring back at you. You may need help unraveling the core reason you lost your true self and the inability to speak your truth.
There is good news for all of us!
The journey to freedom begins with our internal adjustment to and acceptance of the rightness and worthiness of our longing to be known and loved. First, we need to be known and loved perfectly by our Creator, then correctly by ourselves, and finally compassionately by others. Embracing this truth will put you on the path to understanding that your true self (the person who sometimes says no!) offers a more excellent gift in relationships than one whose responses are a revolving door of yeses.
You are not alone in your journey to feel safe and confident saying no with intentionality! Julia wants to help you connect with love, reduce stress, and live an authentic life. Make an appointment with her today.