How to say NO and find inner serenity in 5 steps

I'm sure you're familiar with these situations: Your best friend needs your help and you just can't say NO even though you don't know where your head is right now. Your parents are expecting visitors and they want you to bring a cake. Your husband has invited business partners to dinner and expects you at his side being the perfect hostess. Do you go to the ends of earth for your friends? And you always have an open ear for your fellow man? It is important to you that everyone around you is doing well, no matter what the effort for you and that it leaves you with less time for yourself? This means that you too belong to those who always want to make everything all-right and who can never say NO.

The same applies to your job: you literally knock yourself out, never rejecting any task, with overtime more the rule than exception. But in the end, when the others have long been enjoying themselves in the beer garden, you are left trying to please everyone, putting your own needs aside once more.

You're not doing yourself a favor if you never say no. With every YES you remove yourself a bit more from yourself. From your needs, wishes and dreams. Of course, it is good and right to be helpful and to support others. But it requires the right sense of proportion, so that you yourself are also doing well! Which is why you should ALWAYS stay attuned to your feelings, as they will serve as a valuable warning system. Because that unpleasant feeling usually means you’ve crossed the boundaries again, losing sight of yourself and saying YES once again.

The harder it is to say no, the more important it is to do it

Have you ever wondered what drives you? Why is it so difficult for you to say “NO”?

In order to find out the reasons for your permanent yes, you must first listen to yourself. Which of the following sentences reflect how you act or feel?

  • It's important to me that the others accept me.

  • I like to be praised.

  • I often make assumptions about what people expect from me and consequently often do more than is actually required. - What must the others think about me?

  • If I say no now, that will only bring trouble.

  • I want everyone around me to feel comfortable.

  • I hate conflicts, prefer to avoid them and always try to maintain harmony instead.

  • If I am completely honest with myself, I repeatedly change my opinion just to somehow please others.

  • Criticizing other people is incredibly difficult for me.

  • I put my wishes and needs aside for the benefit of others.

  • I'll do anything not to make myself unpopular!

  • It is incredibly difficult for me to say NO, deny a wish or refuse a favor. If I don't go along with this, they'll be talking bad about me behind my back.

  • I always stay a little longer in the office because I suspect that my boss expects this from me and I am afraid that he might not be satisfied with me and my work if I leave too early.

  • I'm just afraid to speak my mind and stand up for what I want.

  • I always complete the tasks of the others first, before I take care of my affairs.

If these are exactly the sentences that shoot through your head, then you will now become aware of yourself and your actions. And that's the first step to getting out of this "I want to please everyone” trap".

Say no - and your life will be easier.

The evidence is clear. So now you've identified it, the root cause, the urge to please everyone.

But what can you do to change the way you deal with these situations, so that you can remain true to yourself without having to be afraid of rejection?

The following thoughts may be helpful to you:

  • My needs are also important!

  • "NO" is an important word and helps me to make my limits clear to the others.

  • Even if I have a different opinion and say no, I am still a valuable and lovable person.

  • If I show my limits, I will experience respect and esteem.I don't need to be afraid of conflicts. They are important and open the door to find a solution or a compromise together.

  • When I stand up for myself and express my own opinion, I demonstrate my uniqueness, setting myself apart from others. Then I am not AGAINST someone, but rather FOR ME.

  • I can also make mistakes, that's only natural, and I have the opportunity to grow with my experience, to develop further.

  • Only if I take good care of myself can I take good care of others.

  • Do I really need the people in my life who only like me because I do everything right for them?

  • I can also question relationships with supposedly good friends if I have the feeling that they are not doing me any good.

  • It's enough if I look out for the people I value.

  • A little more equanimity and a healthy I-don’t-care attitude makes my life easier... etc.

Expand this list for yourself. You will see that in the process a lot of thoughts will come together that will lead you to a deeper self-consciousness. From this experience a new behavior will emerge that makes your life a lot easier and more relaxed. Guaranteed.

Say NO – be proud of who you are and what you want

Express your goals and wishes, but also your limits and the things you no longer want.

Imagine how situations that have burdened you -until now can be improved by this new behavior and how you can feel more comfortable. And show your newly gained self-awareness openly so that everyone can get to know you anew. Do not be discouraged by small setbacks. Afer all, this not being able to say NO has also evolved over many years. Give yourself the time you need to become a YES-sayer for your own needs.


1. Dig into your memories and collect as many situations as possible in which you have tried to please other people while putting your own needs aside. Then choose the situation where you think: Yes, I could behave differently next time; that would be easy for me and the risk of negative effects for me is relatively low.

2. Now let this situation happen again in front of your inner eye, like a film, where you are sitting in the auditorium. Step mentally out of the situation and take on an observer role, a kind of bird's eye perspective. Notice what you think, how you act, what you feel. What others think, how they act, how they feel. Don't judge. And accept – without resistance - that this situation is as it is. You can’t change it! And while it may not be good, it’s still okay.

Do you feel how accepting the situation makes you calmer? Focus especially on your role in this situation: What specifically did you think and do to meet the supposed and actual expectations of others? How did that feel for you? And please observe closely now: Were these expectations actually expressed or did you only make them up in your head?

3. In what way would you have behaved if these expectations, your own and those of others, had not existed? Then how would you have felt? What thoughts would you have had? Are you also paying attention to your posture and facial expressions? Immerse yourself deeply into this moment.

4. And now recall at least three situations in which you have NOT fulfilled the real or assumed expectations of the others. In which you have successfully succeeded in saying NO. Do you remember how great you felt the moment you succeeded in standing up for yourself and your needs? Perhaps it will take you some time for find your three situations, but stick to it! Don’t stop until you have found these three examples.

For now you will become aware that you are already carrying this NO within you and already practicing it successfully - followed by wonderfully positive consequences: This can be more self-esteem, pride, satisfaction, appreciation or respect and much more. Dive into this feeling and this world of thoughts as deeply as you can. Bathe in this feeling of well-being because this is your natural state and not the one under step 3.

5. And now you're making a new movie! Grab your situation from step 1 and ask yourself how you want to feel and behave in this situation in the future? What do you want to have or be in this situation? And what can YOU now contribute in a concrete way, do for it, so that exactly this becomes your new reality?

BAM! Now you are in the middle of self-responsibility, because yes, exactly, you alone can influence and shape this situation in such a way that you feel comfortable in it. No one else has that power. Sure, you can also address demands, wishes and expectations to your counterpart, but at that moment you are dependent on that person and you may feel at the mercy of that person...frustration is therefore inevitable.

Therefore: concentrate on the things over which you yourself have the power and influence, then you will succeed with the good feeling. Be courageous. Challenge yourself. Because honestly, what could possibly happen?


Text by Martina Nachbauer

Preview Image by Caique Silva

Follow The Devi on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


Recent Posts

See All