July 10, 2024

The Pleasure of Saying No

Saying no. How does that make you feel inside when you read that? If you’re a woman (especially), it’s likely to make you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, squeamish, and all sorts of other negative things. Hating to disappoint people is something many people, particularly women, have been conditioned to think is bad. Putting others first is some type of heroic act, or that’s what society has fed us. Being a martyr is the way to go in this life, right? My opinion? I’ll say “no” to that. After years of practicing, and continuing with this practice, saying no has gotten easier. Not necessarily more comfortable, but easier. I can identify things that I don’t want to do much more quickly than I could, and before I know it, I’m saying no. Let’s get more into it, and how the pleasure of saying no is a real thing. It can feel good, and I’ll tell you how I have gotten there and how you can, too.
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Doing What Fills Me (and Tater Tot) Up

Become Aware of Yourself

You may not even be aware that you are a people-pleasing machine. Making other people happy is how you were raised, and giving until you are essentially squeezing blood out of a turnip is normal. Growing up, other people’s comfort would come first. I especially noticed this in my relationships with some men in my life, starting with my father. The demand for his comfort to be the most important in the house was always present, and we cowered to that demand. “No” was not a word he quite understood, and that was how I was raised. After moving away and then coming back, I realized some of the tools and skills I picked up were ones that I wanted to exercise, especially around saying yes to myself more. The pleasure of saying no became essential in my own well-being, and I had to get used to the discomfort. By saying no, I was beginning to recognize how others took advantage of of my yeses, and that left me disappointed, unhappy, frustrated, and depleted. My awareness became more heightened, and saying no became more common in my daily life.
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Sorry, It's Inevitable. Discomfort is Going to Happen!

Face the Discomfort

When someone makes an ask of me now, I try to take a pause. I assess whether or not this person is worthy of my time and energy and resources, and I make a decision. Typically, my gut does all the talking. If I listen to it, I know right away what the answer is going to be. However, I still take some time to think it over, just in case I am having a moment of unclarity. This part is deep, because it’s really connecting with myself and who I am. It takes to get to this space, especially if you’re raised to think that you come last and everyone else comes first. Many people from my past, people I have allowed to dictate what they need of me, come creeping around and asking me things because in the past I have allowed it. I imagine it would make their skin crawl if their own child was treated this way. But people don’t think of it like that. People want what they want, and it’s our job to let them know what we are willing to give them, and more importantly, what we are not. Saying no feels uncomfortable at first, but it feels a lot better than doing things that make you low key hate yourself because you feel used. It’s choosing your hard, choosing your discomfort. It’s either you or them. Make the choice.
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Saying No Is As Fun As Riding a Merry-Go-Round

Is There Really Pleasure in Saying No?

Maybe the title of this article, The Pleasure of Saying No, feels like a juxtaposition to you. When you’re not used to it, it absolutely will. I’m here to tell you, there is pleasure. Taking back your time and energy and resources is like no other pleasure you can imagine. Letting the vampires and blood suckers fall away will open your life up to so much more. The right people start showing up, you start to respect yourself more, and you have time to dive deep into what YOU want, not what everyone else wants of you. One of my phrases is: if you’re not paying my bills, you don’t get to tell me where my time goes. Believe me when i tell you that yes, you will be uncomfortable, but you will start seeing what people really think of you and how they perceive you. It can be difficult and humbling and possibly even embarrassing. Letting people treat you like a doormat sucks, there is no way around that. But when you start to stand firm in your core beliefs and givings, you will find pleasure, even delight, in saying no.
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Saying Peace to the Old Ways

How to Get Started

Start small with saying no. The pleasure of saying no will come later, after you’ve gotten some practice under your belt. We need to focus on small acts of “rebellion,” if you will. Maybe it's as small as refusing to take your partner's keys he forgot in your car to him for the 4th time after you left the house already. Or maybe it's refusing to let someone use your work resources with no compensation. You may have done this, but it’s ok to change your mind, to wake up to the reality that it doesn’t benefit you. When someone continues to make their problems yours and asks you to remedy them, you need to decide if you’re willing to allow that. I’m not saying never to help anyone in need, but there are differences in needs. In many situations, I’ve been generous to my detriment, and then I’m angry at the person for doing exactly what I allowed them to do. That’s on me, and it’s on you, too. Say a simple no when you might have said yes. Try it on, see how it feels, and then do it again until it feels easier. It will, I promise you that. Work through the difficulty and discomfort for your own good. You are deserving.
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Make Sure You Have Good Friends to Cheer You Up

What to Expect

People are going to be confused, agitated, angry even. Let them. You bending over backwards for someone else’s personal benefit when your insides are roiling does not serve you whatsoever. It harms you, actually. Doing things that go against your true being lower your confidence and your opinion of your own self. And I’ll be honest, it also lowers others’ opinions of you. That’s why you’re here in the first place. People have accepted the access to you that you have given them, even though it’s against what you truly desire and want for yourself. The great news is that you have the right and the agency to change that mind of yours. You are not trapped in the yeses of yesterday. Each day you get to decide how you show up for yourself, and standing in that power will change your world. Know that it will be hard and even kind of miserable at first, but the pleasure of saying no will come. And it will come more quickly than you know if you make this a regular practice. I’m here supporting you all the way. You’re worthy and worth each and every no you tell someone. Ultimately, it’s a yes to yourself. And you are important enough to say yes to.
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Stand Tall, Stand Firm. And Celebrate Your Strength 

Stand Firm in Your No

Once you make your no known, stick to it. If you waiver, others will smell the fear and come at you like sharks eating chum. Let yourself feel the discomfort. Go for a walk, do a meditation, call a friend, or journal. Whatever you have to do to let that no stick, do it. Hell, you can call me and I will give you all the encouragement (and a good pump up) to help you stick to your no. Go through the examples of the past of why you said no in the first place. All the stomach aches and headaches that you dealt with to please someone else’s needs. The crazy things is, you’re not even doing them a service. You’re only enabling them. So if you need a reframe, tell yourself you’re doing the asker a favor by saying no. It will help you grow, and it will help that person grow, even if said person kicks and screams the whole time. Again, let them, We are adults and can handle ourselves however we choose. No means no, and make it stick.

Become a 2-Year-Old Again

Go back to your two-year-old self. None of us remember being that age, but we all know how that age acts. They start realizing their agency in life, and the word no is the most powerful word in their vocabulary. Truly, go back to being like a toddler and say the word no. The pleasure of saying no from a child comes naturally, and somewhere along the line we are conditioned to be yes-people. Screw that. Take matters into your own hands and give yourself permission to say no when the feeling is not right. I’ve lost relationships over it, pissed people off, had people leave me because of it. Goodbye. Good riddance. Our relationship was based on my discomfort and you getting what you wanted. NO thank you. What I can tell you is that now I have the most amazing friends surrounding me, all who ebb and flow saying yes and no. It’s a beautiful evolution in my life, and one I am so proud of for myself. As soon as I started saying no to the complete bullshit, I started saying yes to the good stuff, and I regret nothing. I’m a living testimony to taking the pleasure of saying no to a level I never thought I could achieve. But here I am, and I’m waiting for you to join me. It starts with one “no.”

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