In life, sometimes we say ‘no’.
No, I cannot maintain this conversation right now.
No, I do not want to do the activity.
No, I do not think that is a safe idea.
When we say ‘no’, we have reasons. It could be that we are stressed out, already have something on the go, do not think it sounds fun or useful, it is not the right alignment, or we just do not want to. Our reasons are diverse and many.
When People React Poorly to ‘No’
Sometimes when people hear the word ‘no’, their pain influences the way they hear the word. They hear any litany of things that were not necessarily implied with ‘No’ such as, “You are not good enough”, or, “I prefer to spend my time with other people”, or, “Everyone gets to do this but you.” They hear no as an act of rejection. This can result in any range of behaviours from lashing out to temper tantrums and bullying to making up reasons they perceive they received the ‘no’ that puts them in a ‘right’ position and the ‘no’ person in the ‘wrong’. Denial is not just a river.
These types of reactions can make saying no ‘scary’. It is why a lot of people will choose to just say yes or to avoid scenarios altogether. Because it is ‘easier’ than dealing with the above.
No Is Not Always An Act of Rejection
The word ‘no’ is not always a rejection. Though sometimes it is and if it is, that is ok as well. We do not always get what we want from people and that is part of life. Learning to recognize that people are complex and their reasons are many is a great way to stop taking ‘no’ so personally.
Often times when I say ‘no’, it is because:
a) I am in ceremony and have to stay focused.
b) Your soul has something going on and there is a better alignment around the corner.
c) I am not the right fit.
d) I am exhausted from something else and cannot currently give what I call my best
e) This is not going to be a safe interaction and I can tell from the jump off.
Every single person coming to this post could make up their own personal, “Reasons I say no” list. In fact, maybe you would like to do so as an activity of strengthening y our own boundaries (or evaluating where they are at). When I have ignored my own internal ‘no’ and did the people pleaser thing, it has often blown up in my face.
The Power of ‘No’ as a Teacher
In my life, I have realized how powerful those ‘no’ moments are. Not only as an act of boundary and self preservation, but also as teachers. When I say ‘no’ to a person and they respect it, that demonstrates that they are probably safe to engage with at a better moment. If they throw a little tantrum including digs or pain speak “You ALWAYS think this about me” or “You are denying me this thing I demand of you now” it shows me that the ‘no’ was justified. In fact, it reinforces my ability to say it in the future.
If you have been feeling a little nervous about saying ‘no’, I get it. Nobody really likes the potential lash outs that come with it. As a seasoned ‘no’ sayer, I add this: A lot of the time, people appreciate a sincere ‘no’. Especially if they have had to say one themselves.
As a dear friend Patty said,
“One thing that comes to mind on this broad topic, for me is before healing, much self discovery and growth the words, ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ were very much tied to self worth for me. Whether I was making the request or receiving. (I felt) Rejection if given a no response, or …acceptance (if) a yes.
After so much work on that people pleaser part of myself, my perspective has totally changed. I know that a No means not right now, in this moment I cannot meet that expectation or request, and I let it be. I don’t let the response ignite a feeling of unworthiness, instead it brings a feeling of respect, grace and understanding for myself and the other person, without having to require an explanation.
(I have learned) What I deem urgency does not obligate anyone else to take it as such. A no response can open a door of opportunity for me to take the next steps to figure something out on my own, or reach out to someone who is better equipped to assist. People who know me, know very well that there is a very valid reason for me to say no, and because I can now do so for much of the same reasons you pointed out, I don’t feel pressured to explain myself. The more I respect the no’s and boundaries of others, the more mine are in return.”
(Patty S. included with permission.)
Questions for Self Discovery
I love working with self discovery questions as a way to guide my soul growth process. They are a simple and effective way to see where we are at with something. I like to meditate with the questions and give myself multiple passes at them. Often, the answers will begin while still in practice and keep trickling in for days (weeks, months) after.
Here are some to get you started.
How do you react to the word no when you say it? Do you say it?
How do you react when you hear the word no?
What does it mean when you say no?
What do you hear when someone tells you no?
What happens when you say ‘yes’ when what you wanted to say was ‘no’?
As you go through the answers, be kind to yourself. These questions of self-discovery are meant to go deep. Taking the reigns on your healing is a big deal. Congratulate yourself on that.
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This post is being written during the late 2021 Mercury transit. These questions are great to ask when in meditation any moment. Supercharge your practice by lining up with Mercury for questions of communication. I regularly speak about the alignments on my instagram feed in ‘stories’. Follow @crowmedicinekatie to stay informed!
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More Mercury: Gifts of Mercury – Crow Medicine: (crow-medicine.com).