An Owning Pink reader asked me to write this post on how to say no. She wrote, “I searched high and low on the web to find how to say “no” in a finite manner. From Oprah to many self help gurus, most advise the not so friendly way – and when it comes to family – it’s a different story than saying no to a car salesperson. How can I make someone understand no is simply NO? Some kick-ass pointers, Lissa Rankin style, would be stellar.”
My rebellious first thought was “I should say no!” But not being one to prove a point just to prove a point, I decided to say yes, not because I feel obligated, but because I felt inspired, I love to write, and I definitely have some thoughts on this topic. Given that the holiday season starts this week, this topic seems particularly relevant, since some of our toughest no’s revolve around family. So if you’re one of those people who could use a few tips on how to say no – during the holidays and any other time – this post is for you.
Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
I’ve been a perfectionist-people-pleaser for most of my life, so “no” hasn’t been on my radar much until recently. For the majority of my life, I always managed to squeeze in the “yes,” even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do. But lately, there’s just not enough of me to say yes to everything that comes my way. In fact, I’ve written in magic marker in big black letters on my office wall “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”
I admit that some of my “no’s” have been the much easier “not now.” Writing a book makes a great excuse. I just tell people I’m in my book writing cave, and for those things I really don’t want to do, I just hope people will forget to ask me again.
But wouldn’t it be more honest to just say “no,” without condition, without excuse, without apology? Wouldn’t it be liberating to just say “No, I don’t want to?” Oh yeah, baby. That feels good.
The Fear Of Saying NO
But then the Gremlin shows up. “What will people think of you, you diva bitch from hell? What if, by saying no, you miss out on some grand opportunity? What if you say no so many times people just quit asking, and then you’ll be all alone, nobody will love you, and your professional opportunities will just wither up and die?”
Scary, eh? That’s the thing, I think. “No” is SCARY. “No” means stepping into your power. “No” means being unapologetically YOU. “No” means tapping into your desires so you recognize what you DON’T desire. “No” means letting your freak flag fly, being authentic, and expressing your truth.
Saying “no” is actually saying “yes”- to YOU. By saying no – to relationships that no longer serve us, to professional opportunities that don’t feed our soul, to volunteer experiences that suck the life out of us, to family obligations we just don’t want to meet – we’re saying yes to our pleasure, our desires, and our dreams. We’re setting boundaries so there’s room for more of what we DO want in our lives.
But it’s tricky, because some people don’t listen when we say no. They assume we mean “not now.” Or they figure we just need to be persuaded. Or, especially when it comes to sex, they may think “no” actually means “yes,” when it just doesn’t.
So how do we say no – PERIOD?
11 Tips For How To Say No
Saying “yes” when you mean “no” elevates your levels of unhealthy stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, while reducing your health-inducing chillaxin’ hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. These hormonal changes can weaken your immune system, tax your cardiovascular system, deplete your adrenal glands, and predispose you to illness.
Is saying “yes” when you mean “no” really worth getting sick? You deserve to live a wholly healthy, vital life.
Can You Say No?
Is this tough for you? What have you learned about saying no? Does it feel selfish to you to say no? Share your stories.
Supporting your no,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
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