How to Say No with Love

How do you feel about the word no? Of course, most of us don’t like to hear it when we want something, but how do you feel saying it? Setting a clear boundary can feel challenging when you want to come from a loving place, but sometimes it’s necessary. “Saying no when you really should is better for everyone in the long run because you are being authentic,” says Melissa Escaro, life coach, NLP practitioner and author. Below are her thoughts on why it’s so hard to say no, and how to do it with love.

Healthy boundary setting is like using a muscle; the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Why do some of us have such a hard time saying no?

Of course, all of us who have trouble saying no are working from a place of best intentions. We all want to be there for our family and friends—we want to help others. But sometimes we say yes simply to avoid conflict or hurt feelings. Or sometimes we feel more accomplished or significant if we take on more and more. Saying no in those instances would be the healthier thing to do.

How can having poor boundaries hurt one’s emotional health?

Agreeing to events, tasks and other requests that we don’t want to do or don’t have time for can create feelings of resentment and regret. Over time, having poor boundaries can also chip away at one’s self-respect.

How can you decide if you should say yes or no to something?

If you are someone who struggles to set boundaries, give yourself a 24-hour rule. You can say, “Sounds like a great opportunity; can you give me a day to think about it?” Then go off by yourself and get quiet and think about why you would say yes to this request. Is it something you authentically want to do? If not, a no is perfectly appropriate.

How do you say no in a loving way?

If you’ve decided that saying no is the right thing because it is authentically what feels true, then remember it is ultimately in everyone’s best interest. You can frame it this way: “Thank you so much for the opportunity, but unfortunately I can’t take on any more commitments right now and still give my all.”

Does it get easier the more you do it?

Healthy boundary setting is like using a muscle; the more you practice, the easier it gets. Soon you won’t dread doing it at all. Just give yourself space and time to listen to your gut and you’ll always make the right decision.