How to say NO to others … in an open-hearted way

How to say NO to others … in an open-hearted way

Practicing in the mirror how to express what I really wanted to say. Stumbling with my words when I’d first learn how to communicate my needs using the 4-step approach.

I was finding my voice. I was beginning to say NO in an open-hearted way.

In 2001 I’d begun to work in mental health and had learnt about the finer skills in the ‘art of communication’. I knew the aim was to move from being avoidant, aggressive, passive-aggressive ……to being assertive (a beautiful connected win/win approach).

Yet sometimes I still acted from my childhood pattern of ‘saying nothing’ and then complaining or feeling resentful. Other times I’d avoid confrontation and ‘expected others close to me to read my mind’. And when they didn’t… I felt rejected like they didn’t care.

I’d handed over my power. I wanted certain people to ‘like’ me… at the cost of me. The worse thing to recognize in myself was that I was playing a victim and wasn’t taking enough responsibility for why sometimes I was overwhelmed and under-supported.

I needed to get better at TWO things- both the ‘art of asking’ and ‘the art setting loving boundaries’, to be able to say NO.

Saying NO would require me to use my voice in a way it wasn’t used to. It could mean hearing my voice waiver, feeling the shame arise in my gut, the angst in my heart and the flush in my face. I had to test new waters- it was a ‘new-to-me-skill’ and I didn’t know how I would sound, what horrible reactions I might get and where this would lead to in my relationships.

It was a risk.

However, I was DONE with being the ‘pleaser’ or the ‘good girl’. I wanted more authenticity. More realness. More truth-telling. I knew this would lead to a greater peace, a greater happiness. It would lead to a better me.

Often as women saying NO to another adult is the hardest thing for us to learn. It’s been drummed out of us, suppressed, frowned upon and even shamed (the worse emotion!).

We’ve been taught that being ‘nice’ is about saying ‘yes’ to others, putting ourselves last. We ‘ve been taught that it’s morally elevated or highly spiritual to be constantly of service to others (to the neglect of own needs).

With the knowledge of Brain science and how our children need us to be in our higher brain state as much as possible, it’s IMPORTANT to say YES to YOU. If you’re sort of mother who is often give, give, giving to others beyond your own children I want to give YOU PERMISSION and courage to say NO.

Your children NEED you to fill your own self-love tank. When you’re depleted it’s impossible to fully meet their emotional needs. Particularly when they are younger, your child feed off your energy and nervous system -often become anxious, clingy, spiral and demanding when you’re low or empty.

They really do need you to care for YOU as well.

It takes great courage to say NO. It’s not easy. It’s the work of the empowered woman who’s on a quest to be the best version of herself. The woman who wants her children sitting in the shadow of a mama leader- a leader of her own life.

But how can we say NO in a way that is kind and loving?

It takes practice (and there’s always your partner, your friend, or the ‘mirror’ to start practising with ;).

Personally, if I’m uncertain about whether to say YES or NO I follow these 3 Steps:

  • Step 1: I ask for time so I can check in deeper with my intuition and get clear
  • Step 2: Check in with my body and imagine myself saying ‘yes’- if I feel relaxed and expansive I go ahead and say YES. If there is a glitch or contraction of my body, if it doesn’t feel right in my gut and my heart – I say NO. This is the intuitive way (your body always knows your inner truth)
  • Step 3: I go back to the person and communicate in a kind way. It’s so much easier to say NO when I’ve followed this process as I KNOW my intuition is my best guide in life.

The recovering Doormats society have put out 10 ways to say NO. It has some great ideas of statements you can try. Choose which one feels authentic to you. And then before you speak to take a few deep breaths, get yourself in a good inner place where you’re having kind thoughts “It’s ok to say YES to me. I can be my own best friend’ and speak from THAT place.

You may like to visualize you and the other person getting their needs met (win/win). When we say no to another it’s often surprising how they find others to help (even when they’re initially convinced that YOU are the only one they can ask)

If it’s a close friend or relative, you could be doing them a FAVOUR by saying no.  You are modelling self-love AND you are bringing a deeper honesty into the relationship.

Your saying NO is being a role model for not only your children but other adults around you.

It’s a powerful place to live from. You will begin to feel stronger inside and less self-conscious. You will begin to reclaim your authentic self again.

And it’s a beautiful place to live from 🙂

I’ve got my hand on your back as you strengthen your ‘NO’ Practice.


PS. The ONLY round of The Intuitive Motherhood Program is coming in October 2018. This is an 8-week online program, with a group coaching component and an online community.

Get on the waitlist here:





With so much love,

Mama Maria xoxo

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