5 Tips for Saying No and Reclaiming Your Peace
It has been a lifelong struggle for me to say NO without the fear of losing approval, and that primordial fear has led me to compromise my well being countless times. The fear of disappointing anyone was a fear of rejection in disguise. I had suffered from abandonment throughout my childhood and rarely received positive feedback, so my greatest concern was to be ostracized again, so I became approval-dependent to mask my fear.
The story I would tell my scarred inner little girl was that if I made others feel good, they would see that I was a good person, and they would accept me for who I was – or for the unpoised self I was trying to be. By saying YES to everything, I would feel overly taxed so I wouldn’t have as much energy left to serve my family and the other areas of my life that were truly important to me. I would feel sacrificial. Exhausted. Guilty. Plus, I would always, think, “You didn’t do enough. You could have gone the extra mile.” It was never good enough for my ego.
Just a few weeks ago, I made a friend at my local wellness center. After conversing on spirituality and quantum particles for about an hour, he asked if he could give me a hug, and I said, “why not?” – OF COURSE, I would extend love! Then my well-intended friend reached out for a kiss on the cheek, I felt uneasy and said, “that’s too much for me, dear, sorry.” A year ago, I would have kept my mouth shut and let the discomfort occupy my inner space. Although I did apologize for my discomfort, I congratulated myself for speaking up for my boundaries and personal space.
You do not have to apologize for desiring to have boundaries. Because you exist, you have the inherent right to set the tone for your life.
Now — approval is a core emotional need that we inherently have. It is a fundamental human need to form and maintain healthy, stable interpersonal relationships; we all have the “need to belong”. Our drive to connect with others and to be loved stems from our original oneness with the eternal Love that created us. But the ego twists that holy oneness and convinces us that we are alone so we need to seek for that bond outside of ourselves. Our loveless voice (aka the ego) compels us to seek for approval outside of ourselves. The ego’s main doctrine is “seek but do not find” so the more we depend on external approval, the more we deplete our connection with our divine self-worth, and the more dependent we feel on others to feel good. It is an unremitting, cascading spiral made in Dante’s Hell.
When I tried to repress my need for approval, I created more guilt and self-shaming resistance, so my first step was to accept that I did need approval – with a twist. I realized that I needed my own approval. When I accepted that fact, I instantly felt a sense of relief. I was no longer lying to myself trying “to get” spiritual principles by bypassing my emotions. I shifted that attention back to myself, training my mind and heart to remember that the only acceptance and love I was seeking was my own. And when I could not do it on my own, I would hit my knees and pray for help to see myself differently. A loving shift always ensued.
Saying YES to everything diminishes our inner space for the people and situations that are meant to enter our life. As long as our “NO” comes from a compassionate mindset, others will respect our stance and not perceive it as a personal attack.
A loving NO can create more space for miracles and for what is lined in the stars for you.
Tips to say NO with compassion:
1.Approval from others is not necessary for you to feel good about yourself. Until you approve of yourself first, others will feel that energy of distorted self-worth. Turn to your own heart for approval for the next 21 days and watch your self-love go up. And remember that progression prevails over perfection (I don’t want the pressure of perfection, dear Ego).
2. Be appreciative. Thank them for thinking of you and have a positive demeanor even in the midst of the uncomfortable NO. Hold your head high and keep your heart open.
3.Begin the practice of saying NO with easy situations. Maybe you start saying NO to food offerings that you do not want but say YES out of good manners.
4. Your self-care is enough of a valid reason to say no. You don’t owe anyone justification for self-care because it is a vital need. It is not selfish – it is selfless because when you nurture yourself, you expand your capacity to give freely when you are called to do so. When you feel depleted because you act like the “over-responsible” one at the expense of your wellbeing, you begin to drain your resources and that is a sign to turn to your inner teacher for guidance.
5. Make a list of five things you want to start saying NO to. Small steps practiced regularly are the pathway to long-lasting changes. Is there a friend or family member that takes consistent advantage of your time and willingness to serve? Do you feel that you have to drink in social settings to socially “fit in”? Get honest with yourself and you will be supported with wings of love.
Bonus tip: Ask your internal guidance if you are meant to help a specific person or assist in a particular situation. Only our inner teacher can match our experience and wisdom with the needs of another individual. Without consulting our guidance, we might strain ourselves. We never actually know the best course to assist in the healing of another – but we can rely on the One who does know and curb our urge to control everything.