Permit Yourself To Say No

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“’NO’ is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation to follow. You can truly answer someone’s request with a simple No.”   – Sharon E. Rainey, author

Stop Saying “No” To Yourself

One of the saddest things is a child who grows up being put into the position of being the pinball between two parents, unable to say “No” to either and unable to say “Yes” to themselves.

The child will grow into being a people-pleaser. Being a people-pleaser develops into a lifelong habit that can be a life filled with regret.

Therapist Erika Meyers, writing for Healthline, said:

“The urge to please others can be damaging to ourselves and, potentially, to our relationships when we allow other people’s wants to have more importance than our own needs.”

Trying to live a life of pleasing others, only feeling good when we say yes to others, leads only to sadness, loss of self and often bitterness. When we forget to say “No,” we constantly surround ourselves with negative people, overbearing people and people who can scar us for a lifetime.

We all know of people who become frustrated, sad and even lonely because they spent their lives pleasing everyone but themselves. They were pinballs, bouncing from one “Yes” to the next. My heart breaks for them.

Break The Habit

The good news is that you can break the habit. You deserve to be happy; you deserve to live the entire life that you were intended to live. As this topic is so important to me, I have compiled a list of seven steps you can begin taking right now, right this very second. By the way, the “No” doesn’t have to be mean. Even a shake of the head can often be sufficient.


7 Steps to Stop Saying “Yes” to Everyone

1. Start small. You don’t have to change your entire “Yes” to “No” habit in a significant way at first. There are small actions you can take. For example, you don’t have to force it down because you’re offered a second helping of mashed potatoes. If you want to elaborate, say, “No, thank you, I’m watching my weight.” If you want no mashed potatoes, that’s OK, too! Be kind but hold your ground.

2. Limit social media. Of those “426 friends” of yours, exactly how necessary is it to agree with all of them every day? Or at all? It is perfectly fine to skip days, “walk away” from mean and opinionated people or mute them. It is not necessary to keep up with them or even to acknowledge them. If some angry stranger wants to be your friend, determine if you need that burden in your life. I don’t think you do.

3. Set boundaries. If a co-worker, relative or casual friend wants you to agree with their angry, opinionated or even hateful view, walk away. If you dislike confrontation, don’t engage. Don’t allow people or their hatred to infect your beautiful soul.

4. Don’t justify your opinion. As the old expression goes, “No really does mean no.” You have the right to say “No” without explanation. If something feels threatening, uncomfortably mean or gossipy, go with your instincts. It should go without saying that if there is the slightest feeling of danger or discomfort, do whatever is necessary to protect yourself.

5. You are precious. Your needs matter. Because you need to say “No” to some people doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be around those who make you feel positive about yourself. The more you learn to shake your head “No,” the more you will focus on what is good and decent. It is like taking an unfocused, large light and concentrating it down to a laser-sharp beam.

6. Know who empowers you. Some people help us to feel good about ourselves; there are others we secretly know make us feel bad. I knew a wonderful person whose parents never approved of one friend or potential relationship she ever had. Over time, she became lonely, and her parents, of course, became old. They lived their life. She didn’t. You may be respectful in saying “No” to the opinions of others, but you have every right to allow people into your life who make you feel better about yourself.

7. You have plenty of company. Many people, many wonderful people, have gone through the same “No” struggle as you. Don’t be afraid to ask the opinion of people you trust about how they stopped being pinballs or doormats.

“NO” is genuinely a complete sentence, and while I certainly have no desire to end this post on a negative note, if you are fearful or feel coerced to say “yes,” please get a professional to help you. No one has the right to hurt you.

I love you all, and the last thing I want any of you to be is sad. Your life is far too vital for you to spend it as a “Yes person.” Permit yourself to say “No!”


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.