How to say "No" without feeling guilty or
One of the most common problems in relationships is
something so simple, yet can be so difficult at the
It's the ability to say "no" without feeling
like you are "hurting" the other person--and being
okay with it.
Now we realize that for some people, (maybe
you're one of them) this is a non-issue. You might
say no easily and are just fine with it.
But we're willing to bet that if you don't have
this problem (of not being able to say no), your
partner may--then it does become a problem for
Why do so many people have trouble saying
The long and the short of it is simple--
Some of us were taught that it's unselfish and
"nice" to say "yes" no matter what.
We've adopted beliefs that to say "no" to
someone means you don't love the other person ("If
you loved me, you'd agree with me") or you're being
selfish when you say "no" and that's bad.
We've learned that agreeing even when we don't
mean it or want to means that we'll get love from
the other person.
We lie to ourselves and we lie to others just to
keep the peace.
Saying "yes" when we mean "no" might even be a
tactic we learned that says "I'll delay
disappointing you and it won't hurt so bad."
Maybe we were even punished when we did say "no"
or watched other people get punished for saying
it--and decided we'd try another way to get our
Much of this is unconscious and is done from
Most of the time we don't even realize that
we're doing it!
A step toward really happy, fulfilling
relationships is to make our words and actions come
from a conscious place from inside us.
And learning how to say "no" in a loving,
heart-felt way that keeps a connection with the
other person is a step toward that.
Whenever we come across a relationship
challenge, the two of us find it helpful to slow it
down so we can untangle it and see what's
So how about if we start untangling your or your
partner's hesitancy (or complete inability) to say
"no" when that's really what you or they feel?
Here are 3 ways you or your partner can begin
finding an honest "no" inside, say it without
feeling unkind or guilty, and keep your
1. Find your inner "yes" and your inner "no" For
many of us who've had a hard time saying "no," even
being aware of what we're feeling may be
So start there.
Start identifying the feeling inside your body
that is a "yes" and the feeling that is a "no."
For Susie, a "yes" is a tingly, excitement she
feels in her belly. A "no" for her is a heavy,
nervous, uncertain feeling in the same area and
also in her heart area.
What about you?
Think about something that is a definite "yes"
for you. Where in your body do you feel that "yes"
and what do you feel?
Now think about something that is a definite
"no" for you. Where and what is that feeling?
Your body can give you loads of feedback if you
learn to pay attention. Of course, when you've got
this information, you can choose to act on it or
2. Separate out the stories from the "yes" or
"no" The other day, two young women came to the
door and Otto talked with them. They were selling
magazine subscriptions and part of their sales
pitch was to tell Otto that if he didn't want the
magazines for himself, he could buy and donate them
to the troops in Afghanistan.
When Otto gave them a "no," they asked, "Don't
you care about the troops in Afghanistan?"
Otto thought for a moment, considering their
question and very clearly told them that yes he
cared about the troops and the answer was still no
to the magazines.
What he did was separate out the "story" and the
meaning from the question or questions...
- The story--If he says no to buying the
magazines, he doesn't care about the
- The questions--Did he want the magazines for
himself? Did he want to donate to the troops in
Since there were a lot of unknowns in this
situation--he didn't know if this was a reputable
company and if the magazines would actually make it
to Afghanistan--it was an over-whelming "no" for
This issue of having difficulty saying a
heartfelt, genuine "no" is a great example of
It might go something like this--"If I say no,
then she/he won't love me and I will be alone."
To some, the story is that saying "yes" means
I'm going to get love--which most of us discover
usually doesn't work in the long run to create the
kind of love we really want.
So our advice--start separating out what you are
being asked from the story you might be telling
yourself to more easily find what's the honest
answer for you.
3. Stay in the truth of your "no" when you speak
it without apologizing. Have it as your intention
to keep your connection. For many of us, it
certainly is tempting to put an apology after the
"no." We'd like to please the other person by doing
what they want so we apologize.
We say something like--"I'm sorry but the answer
Somewhere inside us, there's the belief that the
"I'm sorry" will soften the "no" and everything
will be okay anyway.
But this may not truly be honest.
Here's a switch you can make...
When you're called from an authentic place
inside you to say "no," say it with love instead of
You could say this or something like it...
"Thanks for your offer and right now it's a no
for me." Make it your intention that even though
this is a "no" for you, you want to stay connected
to this person.
You can do that by making eye contact and having
an open heart while knowing deep inside what is
true for you.
The truth is that being in your truth and
speaking lovingly from that truth is one of the
best ways to create love that lasts and grows
stronger over the years.
If you or someone you love has this problem with
"no," we invite you to experiment with making some
positive, conscious choices that will bring more
love and peace into your life.
& Otto Collins
Other Relationship Issues,
and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners
who are committed to helping others create
outstanding relationships of all kinds. They
regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and
seminars on love, relationships and personal and
spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA.
They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit"
which has helped people in over a dozen countries
improve their relationships. It includes a video
Partnerships plus two
and Relationship Success
Relationship Quotes Worth a Million
Dollars! You can also
read more articles like these and subscribe to
their weekly newsletter on love and relationships
by visiting their web site at www.collinspartners.com
Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You
Go? has just been released and is now available
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