July 15, 2020

How to Say “No” without Guilt or Shame.


Contrary to popular unconscious belief, this is a full answer in and of itself.

It needs no qualifiers. It needs no excuses or justifications. No explanations or elaborate stories.

Feel a jolt to your system when imagining saying “no” with a simple period following it? Why?

Is it because we’ve been taught that it is good to say “yes” to that which is offered up to us or to that which is asked of us? To go along with what presents itself, to acquiesce to the norm, or the way it is, or how it has always been done?

Haven’t we all unconsciously been sold the idea that “yes,” with a period, is a full answer?

If someone invites you to an event and you say “yes,” do they then ask you why you will join them? No. No they do not. But if you were to say “no,” there might indeed be a pregnant pause, an echo of void. An awaiting of your reasons as to why.

Some people have believed this so thoroughly that they have an entire list of potential tales to tell, explanations as to why they cannot make it to said event.

How exhausting. How brain-washingly exhausting.

The belief in unquestioning agreeableness is so ingrained that some of us have created a list of “outs” or excuses as a means to “escape” it. Yet, these are obviously all lies, right?!

Why participate in this game that makes liars out of otherwise potentially honest and honorable human beings? And if we say “yes” but we really feel like saying “no,” we are lying to a part of ourselves that yearns to do as we wish, and instead choosing from a place of obligation to affirm said offer.

Again, a game of lies. And this game is engendered and survives because of the liar in all of us.

How long will we play this game?
How long will we be roped in?
Pushed and pulled, this way or that?
How long will we do this “just once…to be nice”?

There is a greater version of reality and it exists here and now. It is aided by each one of us equally embracing our “no” just like we may already accept our “yes.”

This is a “no” with a period—the one with an exclamation mark is an entirely different conversation. But, the period represents strength, much sturdier than the need for exclamation. There is finality and surety to it. There is strength in its humility, solidity in its center of gravity. Gravity in its brevity.

What are the reasons we may feel the need to justify our “no”?
What are the reasons we feel it must be exclaimed in order for it to be strong?

Do we feel it has anything to do with being a nice girl or boy (woman or man)?
Do we feel the request is something we could do, and so if we can, we should?
Do we make choices often from a place of obligation?
Do we feel shame or guilt often and make choices trying to escape these feelings?

Well, if we do say “yes” from this space, to escape either shame or guilt, once the act is agreed upon and fully seen through to its completion, the shame or guilt will return. The act giving us perhaps a momentary reprieve from these feelings. Yet, they will rear their ugly heads again later.

Because “the act” continues any time we say “yes” when we really feel the need to say “no.” And it shall continue until we each vanquish our shame and guilt triggers.

Shame and guilt can be seen like velcro. People who get others to do things they want, from this place, have hooks, and if they see a loop of shame or guilt in us, they can hook it. So, to vanquish shame and guilt, one must begin to see how and why and when they choose to operate from these places.

To vanquish shame and guilt, we have to seek out all these loops within ourselves.

What tapes play in our heads? What loops run on repeat?
What if we are worthy, even if we say “no”?
What if we welcomed each others’ “no” with as much acceptance and love as our “yes”?
What if we celebrated, internally, the small victory of another exercising their ability to say “no” without qualifiers? Just as we can celebrate our loved ones’ victories, hopefully we can sit with them through their tough times, as well.

Is “yes” a celebration?
And “no” a tough time?

Perhaps that is up to us to decide as a collective, and by each individual choice we make.

How do we react when we put ourselves out there and offer something we see as enjoyable to a friend, and they say “no”? Sometimes we may badger them a little. We may try to convince them, asking again and again. This could be okay, but imagine the same silly display for a “yes.” Doesn’t that seem ludicrous?

The point, obviously, is not to never badger our friends into going out or doing something together, but to simply take a step back and accept that each of us have our own right to choose in any given moment—we each have our own volition.

At any given moment we can say “yes” or “no.”And I feel that someday soon we’ll be able to accept these terms equally.

It seems to me this could start here and now.

So what do you say?


But, why?


Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Bryan C. Warne  |  Contribution: 155

author: Brian C. Warne

Image: Pawel Szvmanski/Unsplash

Editor: Nicole Cameron