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How Saying "No" Can Improve Your Life

Updated on August 27, 2016
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Dreamworker has had a lifetime of experience dealing with various types of relationships successfully.

Learning to say “No” seems a simple thing to do. It isn’t.

However, if you want to make positive improvements in your life, using this one word is the fastest way to do so.

We spend our lives trying to please other people, and often lose ourselves in the process.

We don’t want to let other people down or feel guilt, so we end up saying and doing things that are just the opposite of what we feel are right in terms of our own value systems.

As a result, we imprison ourselves in impossible situations from which it is difficult to extricate ourselves, but the truth is that learning to say “No” can set us free.

Learn how to remove manipulation and guilt from your life.
Learn how to remove manipulation and guilt from your life. | Source

Understanding and Dealing With Manipulation

Manipulation is a very subtle thing that can occur in subtle ways.

We give into it because we think we “owe” it to other people to bend to their needs so that they will love us, and so we won’t feel guilty by refusing their requests.

This is why we agree to do things we really don’t want to do such as

babysitting for our adult children,
sending Christmas Cards to people we really don’t like and
preparing meals for people who never reciprocate.

While doing such things actually does help us avoid guilty feelings, they also build resentment and anger within us.

If we continue to allow these behaviors, those feelings roil within us until they cause mental or physical health problems and also eventually end our relationships.
If we learn to say “No” and understand that doing so is a positive response to such situations, we may still lose relationships, but we also will free ourselves of negative emotions and be healthier as a result.

Sadly, a good deal of manipulation comes from the people closest to us, so our refusal to cooperate with is difficult.

However, if we want break free and find some stability and happiness in our lives, we must learn to acknowledge what is happening and find ways to deal with it so that it does not eat away at us.

Saying "No" rids you of resentment and anger.
Saying "No" rids you of resentment and anger. | Source

The Underlying Problem Is Guilt

Society has taught us that using guilt to manipulate people is acceptable behavior.

If religious leaders, salesmen, politicians and even educators use it to get people to do what they want them to do, why shouldn’t everybody?

The problem is that using a tool like this destroys one’s feelings of self worth and can even be life threatening.

This is why people need to pay attention to what is going on and learn to stand up for themselves.

Doing this will allow them to free themselves and achieve emotional stability as well as inner joy.

Saying “No” Isn’t Easy

Once you choose to stand up for yourself, you should prepare for upheaval within your social, business and family circles.

People who have been taught from birth that it’s OK to coerce will not understand refusal, even if it is justified.

They will become angry, accuse you of being selfish (or at least think it) and may even end their relationships with you.

If you truly want to be free, you have to take a “so be it” attitude and be willing to walk away. To do otherwise is to bring harm to yourself.

Losing people you care about will be difficult, but if they are using you to achieve their own goals or feed their own egos, you shouldn’t want them in your life anyhow!

Saying “No” Helps, Rather Than Harms People

The truth is that saying “No” to people is actually a way of doing them a favor because it puts an end to enabling, and forces individuals into a greater level of personal independence.

When individuals know they can consistently ask favors of you, and you follow through, you are devaluing yourself and disrespecting them.

You may think you are helping, but you are not. What you actually are doing is removing their right to “do” for themselves, no matter whether they fail or succeed.

Someone you barely know and/or dislike sends you a beautiful Christmas card.

You feel as though you should send one back.

However, you really don’t want to do so because to do so could cause a lifelong situation where you will be exchanging holiday greetings with someone you neither know or like.

  • If you decide to reciprocate, every year you’ll have a problem.
  • If you refuse, there is no problem.

People may think you are rude if you don’t respond, but the truth is that the person who sent you the card was trying to manipulate you into having a relationship you neither wanted or agreed to have.

You resolved your problem. The people criticizing you and the person who sent the card originally, are the ones who now have problems.

You have taught the sender that what she did was unacceptable, and you have taught those making judgments that jumping to conclusions without knowing all of the facts is a mistake.

Those judging may not learn their lesson immediately, but sooner or later, they’ll find themselves in similar situations and will realize that perhaps they were wrong in their thinking!

There is a terrific book called “The Art of Selfishness” which thoroughly explain this concept and is well worth reading. I’ve owned my copy for years, and refer to it often when difficult situations arise in my own life. If you want to learn more about this philosophy, you really should read it.

The Art of Selfishness
The Art of Selfishness

This fantastic book goes into great detail to explain why saying "no" is the right thing to do to help others and also help yourself to have a better life.


Happiness Is the Responsibility of Each Individual

The truth is that in life it is not your responsibility to make other people happy.

By trying to do this, you remove that possibility for them and also take it away from yourself.

Likewise, when you allow people to manipulate you, you build up feelings of anger and resentment within yourself which eventually kill any good thoughts that previously existed.

This is why you see

  • old, sick parents lying alone in nursing homes,
  • skyrocketing divorce rates,
  • parents disowning children,
  • people disavowing their religious institutions and
  • family members permanently eliminating one another from each other's lives.

Happiness is the responsibility of each individual.
Happiness is the responsibility of each individual. | Source

Saying “No” Is Not Selfish

You should always bear in mind that you as well as all other human beings have the right to live your life as you please.

It is not selfish to put yourself first, because if you are not stable and do not have a good self image, you will never be able to help anybody else or even yourself.

So, for example, if

  • your child tries to force you into buying a certain game because “all the other kids have one”, there is no reason for you to do so.
  • your husband balks because you want to have lunch with your best friend, let him know that it is his problem and not yours.
  • a friend comes to you for a loan, just tell him you don’t lend money to friends because you like to avoid having problems in your relationships.

your responses may seem cruel, but in fact they are helpful because

  • your child learns that you can’t get everything you want in life,
  • your husband finds out that he cannot control you,
  • your friend learns that asking to borrow money is not acceptable behavior,

and you save money, earn your husband’s respect and also avoid getting yourself into an uncomfortable situation that might end your friendship.

In the long run, everybody comes out ahead, simply because you said “No”.

The Bottom Line

I cannot count the number of women I have seen stressing out before the Christmas holidays because they are so burdened with the problems they produce.

They endanger their health and their finances all to make other people happy, and quite often, those other people could care less.

They just want a free meal, some gifts or cards and be able to avoid all of the work.


Both women and men need to learn how to stand up for themselves in ways that are both healthy and productive.

Just remember that if you kill yourself taking care of the needs of other people, you’ll die, but they’ll still be alive and will find someone else to manipulate.

You are worth more than that!

Learn to say “No’ so that you can improve your life, feel better about yourself and let others know that you refuse to become their enabler.

Do you think you would be able to say "no" when people try to manipulate you?

See results

© 2016 Dreamworker


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