The Art of saying No

For many people that I have worked with, the word no is the worst word to say as they associate it with being unkind to others. Each time, I challenge where this has come from and how it has managed to sit deep within their minds and transform into a learned behaviour. I am not immune to this way of thinking and have had to do the work to link my fear of the word no to my lived experiences.



In my past, I have always been the go-to person for advice. It may be because I am the eldest child, a great listener, and I remove judgment as much as I can. These factors alone meant that when anyone needs me, I make myself available to help them to solve their problem. If I didn’t, I would be riddled with guilt that I could have helped them in their time of need and didn’t for my selfish reasons. This continued until I reached what I call ’the end of the beginning.’ At this point, I needed those around me, I needed them to help me solve my problems, I needed someone who was not judgemental, and I was in luck. Many of those closest to me rallied around me to support me, to talk for hours on the phone, and help me feel better. However, nothing that was said solved my problem. All it did was take time out of their day, from their families, their routines and their work. The advice was either not plentiful or not an action that I felt I could take based on my values and beliefs.


So I stopped calling for advice and to vent, and I wrote my emotions down on paper instead. I waited for them to telephone, me and I would say the usual response to ‘are you okay?’ ‘I am fine.’ I started to shift the conversation to building my blogging and coaching career instead. I noticed a shift pretty much straight away. My friends would leave the call laughing, they would send me articles or videos that may help me with my new found career. At that point, I realised that they must’ve been so emotionally drained from our conversations and rather than put the needs of their well being and their family routine first. They put me first. I was grateful, but I was conflicted. Working through my self-love journey and building my self-love strategy had taught me the importance of putting self first to ensure that my cup was full before pouring into others.


My coaching and mentoring experience reminded me of the importance of having an end goal in sight when having emotion-based conversations. When I say the end goal, I mean that every conversation, including those fuelled from an emotional place, should have a goal or a solution attached, as this counteracts the heaviness that can arise. I want everyone to put the right preparations in place to protect their emotional health because on reflection many people did not say no when they should have.


The word No should never be avoided; it should play a part in your self-care routine. When it hit me how difficult it may have been for others to say no, I started to practice using it as part of my rebuilding process. I learned how to wrap myself in cotton wool and choose my needs first. If I do not look after my emotional well-being how can I function in the world? We have all heard the phrase ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, I mean, you can try but you will not be pouring anything substantial into anyone’s life and you will continue zapping energy from yours.


Try to avoid putting yourself into a labelled box to justify why you can not say No. I know it is easy to say yes to feel validated, to feel accomplished, to prove that you are a great person, or to ensure that you receive reciprocal behaviour but none of those will benefit you in the long run if you fail to push past fear and guilt and focus on you first. I say it all the time, we all have a vision for who we want to be. Self-worth and confidence are where you should start. After that everything else falls into place including the ability to say yes when you want to and when you are emotionally ready to.


Love from Charm x


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© 2018 by Charm Lawrence