How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty


Say goodbye to being a people pleaser and learn how to confidently say no to someone without feeling bad about it.  This is something that’s always going to be a work in progress for me; navigating a no without being an utterly heartless bitch.  Why is saying no so hard?  Because the word no isn't nearly as important as the energetics (the message) that you think you are sending out behind it - that if you say no people will think that you're;

  • Letting them down
  • Someone who enjoys conflict
  • A bad person who is unfriendly, unhelpful or uncaring
  • Selfish

But what about the message you are communicating to yourself and the Universe when you say yes to things you really want to say no to? 

  • That your own energy (time, money etc) isn't valuable
  • That you aren't worthy of your dreams or desires
  • That you have to sacrifice yourself; your interests and the essence of who you are for the sake of your friends, family, society etc (this assumes that you can't be loved as you are)
  • That you don't have the confidence/courage etc to stand up for your needs and wants

When you say no, not out of spite or selfishness, but simply because your heart isn't in it you are carving out your boundaries, being a truth seeker, following your alignment and declaring your worthiness to the world.

When we don't get the love we seek despite giving and giving and giving, we exhaust the fuel we have to deal with the curveballs life throws at us.  Eventually, our walls inevitably come up, keeping us safe from people using us, taking advantage of us or outright rejecting us.  We begin to say, "I'm going to look after number one now and fuck everyone else", rather than "I'm going to look after number one because I honour myself and can therefore show up better for everyone else".

How do you know you should have said no to something?  The telltale signs are that you search for excuses to get out of it, you feel tired just thinking about it or you are pissed off that they had the nerve to ask you in the first place and put you in a position where you HAD to do it.

And look you have three options here.

  1. Say yes because you feel guilty saying no but then be pissed at them (depletes your emotional energy)
  2. Say no and feel guilty but then be pissed at yourself (depletes your emotional energy)
  3. Say no and don't feel guilty.  It might be hard at first but you will then create space in your life to fill with something that brings you true joy (repletes your emotional energy)
If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no

So if you, like me, are navigating the path away from being a people pleaser and seeking liberation from the burden of should or the guilt, frustration and anger that inevitably ensues; then here are my four practical tips to learn how to gently say no.

four ways to gently say No

1. Just say no, but hold the excuses

If I know straight away that it’s a no then I will use one of the following; 'sounds amazing but I've got my hands full and I can't commit' or 'thank you so much for thinking of me but I can’t right now'.  There is no need for excuses (unless of course, they are genuine and it is someone you are close to).  Hot tip; if you are searching for excuses as to why you can't go, the answer is no.

2. Provide an alternative

If it's not a definite no then providing an alternative can be a guilt free option.  Recommend someone else who can do it in your place or provide an alternative time or setting that is more suited to the both of you.

3. Honour your boundaries

Remind yourself of the cost of saying yes when you really want to say no - what will you lose by giving in? Set your boundaries.  Don’t over-clutter your calendar with commitments that pull you away from the relationships you really want to invest in or the work and tasks that you truly want to do.

4. Use delay tactics

As a last resort, if you still have trouble just saying no then try a delay tactic; 'Let me check my calendar' or 'I'll think about it and let you know'.   Delay tactics give you some time to consider your options, remember it’s easier to take back a no then a yes.

Saying no is a reminder to make your self-care your top priority, to spend your time and energy primarily on things that bring you joy and make decisions based on what you want instead of what others want.  Saying no and putting yourself first is the best way you can help others.