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Actually I want to say no, but how do you do that?!

Actually I want to say no, but how do you do that?!

'By always saying yes, we say no to ourselves. By always putting others first, we pass ourselves.' - Frank de Moei

It sounds easy, it's just one short word of three letters, you think it should be doable, right? Unfortunately, it seems more difficult than expected, there is so much behind the word no. Recently a colleague asked me if I wanted to exercise with her. Actually, I still had so much to do and I didn't really feel like it, but I still felt like I couldn't say 'no'. So I talked myself into some courage and said yes. I felt strangely guilty about saying no, afraid that she would feel rejected, stop talking to me, and tell everyone how bad I was. So I said yes out of fear. Of course, not daring to say 'no' once in a while is not a problem, but what if this dominates your life. Then you are undesirably packed with things that you don't actually want to do.

Is our insecurity the culprit?

Yes, often because we feel insecure we discount our own opinions and needs. We usually do this from trauma. For example, because of a demanding parent, where nothing was ever good enough or because we never had the connection with our parents that we needed. Maybe it felt like your opinion wasn't allowed or didn't matter.

If you recognize yourself in this, this is probably the cause of not daring to say 'no', you are actually constantly adapting yourself to what others want or expect from you. You please others because you are afraid of disappointing them and them blaming you for their miserable lives. And that makes perfect sense. In the past, we needed our parents to raise us, so we adapted to their expectations, otherwise pain or even exile could ensue. Of course this does not always happen this way, but these feelings and thoughts are our survival instinct that tries to protect us.

It is important to become aware of why you do things the way you do them. What have you experienced that makes you feel this way? It is important to have compassion for ourselves (both our adult selves and our small child). This will lead to more self-esteem, more self-love and therefore also the courage to say 'no'. We must consider ourselves worthy enough to dare to say 'no'.

Reading Tip: Do you often feel insecure? This is the reason!

We continue to make it easier for others to feel like they matter. When others are having a good time, you get the validation that you are allowed to be there and that you are good enough. For example, as children we used to receive more attention, extra candy and confirmation that we were good enough if we did something our parents wanted. These are all 'positive' things, but with a toxic edge. We are only rewarded when others like something about us, rather than being rewarded for our own opinions and who we are. Nowadays we live so much from our damaged selves that we continue to ignore ourselves, we do not address the actual source from our youth. And everything will keep repeating itself like an endless loop.

What can I do to break the pattern?

It won't be fun and it will even hurt a lot, but the only way to get rid of it is to go back to those moments in the past when you first felt that your opinion or your feelings were not allowed. Try to look at these moments from a third perspective and ask lots of questions. Did my parents have the right to ignore my opinion? Is it true that I am not worthy enough to stand up for myself? Ultimately, with almost all questions you will see that the other person does not have the right to determine who or what you should be. You can be there just as much as anyone else, including your opinion and what you want. Try to give yourself the love you never had by talking to yourself and soothing your inner child. If situations arise again where you want to say 'no', try to stay as close to yourself as possible and give the responsibility back to the other person. You are not responsible for that one friend who has no friends but you and depends on you. That's up to her to do something about it.

3 tips on how to say 'no':


It's not easy to say 'no'. There is often a great deal of guilt behind the word no. Often this feeling was already created in our childhood, where we were rejected for our real selves and our opinions. We were only liked when others were having a good time. Consciousness is the key to happiness and learning to say 'no'. The more aware you are, the more you can accept the situation and your feelings. This allows you to consciously choose to say 'no' when it feels good, without feeling guilty about it. You will see that the more you value yourself, the more often you will be able to say 'no'!


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