The Power and Honouring in Saying No

by Sandra Wilson, Master of Arts (MA), Brisbane/ Australia

I used to have difficulty in saying No, which meant that I pushed myself too hard to get something done, or I would struggle to carry out a promise even though it no longer felt right.

Years ago, I was given a good demonstration of the consequences of not saying No. I had to put out a brochure for a course I was teaching in the next term and I had a small window of time to do it in. Usually, it came together easily but this time I couldn’t seem to get it together.

Every part of my body seemed unwilling to do it and everything seemed to conspire against it. But the more resistance I felt, the harder I pushed.

I stubbornly went ahead even though there was a resounding ‘no’ inside me.  My mind was like a slave driver whipping me up into a panic: “If you don’t do it now you’ll miss out on student intake for the beginning of the term… then how are you going to support the kids, pay the rent etc.?”… My body did not want to do it but my mind drove me to act out of fear. I could not see the situation clearly nor pause to really consider whether it might be possible to delay putting out the brochure until after I had returned from my trip.

After a lot of effort I finally finished it and, on the way to the printer, I had a small car accident and only just made the deadline. Consequently when I went away I had to spend the first week of my holiday recuperating from my stress and exhaustion. The day I was due to come home there was major flooding and all planes were grounded and the power was out. Mobile phones had not been invented then so I had no way to organise someone else to be at the venue to enrol the new intake of students. I felt power-less. I then realised that I knew all along – my body had been informing me that it was not the right timing to put out the brochure, but I overrode the message and willfully made happen what I thought I wanted done. Since that day I have started listening to my true feelings.

I am realising that my body does let me know whether I am making the right choice or not. If I feel an expansive feeling in my body that means I am making a good choice. If there is tension, I may be making a bad choice or I am resisting making the right choice. In either case my body warns me to look closer at the situation.

But it was only years later, by attending Universal Medicine courses and hearing what Serge Benhayon says about energy, that I started to fully understand how much it hurts myself and others when I try to make things happen. It’s a selfish manipulation which takes nothing else into account other than what I want. This can warp events and cause problems which can affect others because it is not in harmony with the whole. I realise now that, the car accident I had was also indicative of how I was behaving at the time. Even if the course had gone ahead, it would have got off to a bad start because the brochure was tainted with the fear of not achieving my goal and this would have formed part of the subconscious message conveyed by the brochure, which was completely opposite to the message I was trying to convey in the course. By forcing something to happen I was manipulating the outcome to get my own way and I was doing this because I was afraid of what might happen if I didn’t achieve my goal. By contrast, when I am in harmony with my natural rhythm there is a whole-hearted delight which gets things done effortlessly and offers more than just practical help. It graces everyone.

A situation with my daughter helped me understand this further: I had offered to give her some money to help her out of financial difficulties, but when the time came to do so I no longer felt right about giving it to her. A tension arose in my chest and throat whenever I thought of giving it to her and I realised I needed to speak to her about it.

I finally got the courage to tell her that I did not feel right about giving her the money. I was surprised at her reaction. She actually welcomed it as an opportunity to take more responsibility for her life. She stopped pretending she could cope and allowed herself to feel what she was really feeling. It was lovely to be with her in her honesty and vulnerability. This laid the foundation for us to look together at her situation and put a plan in place where she would not be so drained energetically and financially. We talked about how I had struggled as a single mum to provide for her and her brother and how I was constantly telling them: “We can’t afford that”… so I had instilled in them a sense of lack. I was trying to make up for this by giving money to help her out of financial difficulties and relieve my guilt. She saw that she tended to live beyond her means and that this was a tremendous drain on her. She realised that she also spent her energy unwisely by overdoing it and then getting burnt out. I realised that, had I given her the money, it would have been from my wish to fill her lack, and she would have not had the opportunity to change her situation. It would have, in fact, sanctioned the old bad habits and I would have felt drained because I was not honest with her.

By my saying no we opened up a hidden area which, once discovered and brought out in the open, left us both feeling good. It deepened our connection and allowed a new way of being for both of us – just the opposite of what I had feared would happen.

338 thoughts on “The Power and Honouring in Saying No

  1. The body is a great indicator and decisions can give us various bodily experiences – an expansiveness is supportive and a crushing is unsupportive. Simple maths here, and then the decisions can become more subtle and so it is for us to tune in more and more into the body. So simply and yet so easy for us to forget about as a tool.

  2. Everything that happens matters, and there are no coincidences etc – there is no detail, however small that is left aside by the Soul and so the beauty of this is that if we are willing to see and observe all that happens in our day to day then we can read into this and understand that the Soul is always communicating with us and doing its best to support.

  3. Sandra, I love the example you have about knowing deep inside that it was not going to work out and had you simply trusted this inner knowing then things would have been a different experience for you. There is a way to tune into this inner knowing and listen deeply, it is simply a shame that our head can come in and dictate what is needed without considering this inner knowing.

  4. A great example of the consequences of not listening to and honouring our body, ‘I am realising that my body does let me know whether I am making the right choice or not.’

  5. Your story about the flooding reminded me of how animals listen to their bodies and know what’s coming also. Like it was with your daughter there can be a process of trust and then the choice we make unfolds in life and reveals why. We don’t have to know, just trust and let everything flow.

    1. Yes, I’m learning to surrender to the divine plan more and more, ‘We don’t have to know, just trust and let everything flow.’

  6. Often it’s hard to accept the “no” thet we feel in our body. Sometimes it feels irrational and we doubt its legitimacy. We judge ourselves for just simply feeling like not doing something, like, we are being lazy, holding back ourselves, wanting to stay in comfort etc. and that could be all true, but I am beginning to feel how it would actually serve anyone if we just push ahead because our mind, or someone else, says that’s what we should do.

  7. If we think about it, saying no is still saying yes. We just need to feel what it is we are saying yes to when we say no.

  8. I can completely relate to what you are saying here about that feeling of tension in the body when I am going along with something for whatever reason, when I know deep down that I should not be.

  9. The word ‘no’ spoken with love has the power to heal, as you have so beautifully shared Sandra. Speaking to people over the years most of them have shared how hard it is to say this very small word but they have also realised the harm they have often inflicted on themselves when they have said yes instead, reluctantly so. Coming to a place where we can say no, without an ounce of guilt, is a very liberating and healing place to be, and usually not just for us, but for others as well.

    1. Simple maths Eduardo and yet this is such a truth – what are we saying yes and no to is the real question.

    2. I love this formula. And the simplicity of it. Saying no makes space for yes. And saying yes makes space for no. The foundation for this is to develop a sense of the quality we are saying yes and no to.

  10. It is powerful to say no. But is it even more powerful to claim yes from your whole being to something that is true.

  11. There is so much power in the word ‘no’, a word that so many of us struggle to say and to not feel guilty. But when the no is expressed with love for ourselves the healing that is on offer is immense. Of course, how the other person reacts to us saying no is entirely up to them; that is their lesson while ours is the claiming of our truth.

    1. Agree with you Ingrid. In the context of children for example, often the word ‘No’ is misinterpreted to mean ‘never’ but this is usually never true. We actually mean ‘no now’ but by just saying no and not clarifying that, can along cause anxiety and tension because of the misinterpretation.

  12. No is a powerful word, and not one I’m terribly good at. So often I will bend myself to the needs and wants imposed from the outside, rather than taking a moment to feel what is needed and what I specifically am there to offer. There is alot more power and truth in that offer than in the aforementioned ‘sacrifice’

  13. It always amazes me how I can let my mind over-ride my body’s clear messages and come up with all kinds of justifications for doing something that goes directly against that inner knowing. But one clear sign that I am off track seems to be a consistent pattern of bringing complication into the issue and approaching it from a defensive angle if anyone questions my decision to proceed from the head, rather than the body.

  14. I have experienced multiple times that if there is a truth in the ‘NO’, it serves all equally. A close family member saying ‘no’ actually it doesn’t suit if you come to dinner this week – and my whole body expanding because actually it didn’t want to drive that far.

  15. What a clear and practical examples of the truth our bodies communicate to us daily with big and small things. What I found profound is that the more I listen, the more messages I get and the simpler life gets.

  16. The body is always sending us messages. Some are warning us the bridge is out ahead and we may ignore them, at our peril. But, we also are given by our body, the right road to follow, and we once again have a choice! Life is simple, but our mind makes it complicated.

  17. That’s an inspiring outcome you had with your daughter. I certainly am in training with saying no. It has definitely gotten easier over the years, and in some areas of my life, I’m absolutely comfortable with it and don’t hesitate for a second, other areas are trickier, because of my attachments to them. But being aware of it and simply practising talking about it helps enormously.

  18. “…the more resistance I felt, the harder I pushed.’ When we go against what our body is telling us into that stubborn incessant drive we exhaust ourselves by defying what is true.

  19. Saying ‘no’ to me used to feel as though it meant giving up, letting others down and being irresponsible, and I kept pushing and pushing and my classic one was that I would end up in anger and resentment because I would not get recognition and appreciation and others wouldn’t join in and do the same i.e. pushing as hard as I did, but really, the biggest upset was me saying ‘no’ to what was true for me in the first place.

  20. To trust what our body is communicating is asking me to let go of control. And more and more I feel how control changes my movements in more rigid or even feeling an immobility to move. I becoming more aware of this way of trying to please/control instead of coming from the truth that is presented by my body.

  21. To get to a place where we can say no with love, without an ounce of guilt, is the most liberating feeling and can be so healing for us and for the other person as in the case of you and your daughter Sandra. And once we have said it in such a healing way it becomes so much easier to say it again the next time it is called for as our body will remember how confirming it felt.

  22. Working in a restaurant (and previously retail) saying no is close to swearing. But sometimes reality has a way of not matching our expectations or pictures. That does make our reality or the other person/s wrong or bad but our pictures that we so covet as being false.

  23. I love that you felt so clearly in your body that saying no was the true response. The inner, and outer, turmoil that ensued came from saying yes in total opposition to the truth. It got me to thinking that two of the smallest words in the English language seem to cause the biggest of problems. Saying yes when we really want to say no and harming ourselves, and then saying no and feeling guilty for doing so by seemingly letting down others. Listening to our body as it is saying very clearly – ‘this choice will harm you’ – is such a self-loving and very empowering choice to make.

  24. Thank you Sandra. I experienced something similar recently after booking a large event venue. When the venue cancelled my booking five months later (and 3 weeks out from the event) I panicked and reacted. Shortly afterwards I could feel how freeing it was to be free of the old venue as it was not truly supportive. We were able to book another venue 1000s of times more suitable within days. This situation supported me to let go of my long held beliefs about planning and organising things. If it gets complicated or it’s not clear you need to commit 100% and the truth will reveal itself.

  25. I agree there is a huge power in saying no. There have been many times when I have overridden what my body is telling me and I continued being exhausted and tired, until I started to listen and realised that those messages are actually really loving ones that my body is asking me to honour.

  26. Love this Sandra. Great reminder of the simple wisdom of the body and it shows the the body naturally is not one to create issues. We create the dramas tensions and illnesses of our condition by not listening to it in the first place.

    1. Spot on Joshua – it is like the mind tries to convince the body that it is not feeling what it is feeling! And yet feelings cannot be rationalised, they can only be felt and either respected or not.

  27. For some reason an awful lot of women have difficulty saying no (perhaps many men do too). We are brought up to be accommodating; ‘yes-women’ who erroneously equate nurturing with pleasing or appeasing. This blog illustrates beautifully the power of a well-discerned ‘no’.

  28. Saying ‘yes’ comes naturally when we realise our worth and develop our appreciation of how amazing we are.

  29. Thank you Sandra, I could definitely relate to knowing with my whole body not to do something but the fearful thoughts of my mind overriding this and absolute disaster ensuing! My body seems to know flow and when something does not flow it tries to alert me to this. I also appreciated your words about not spending energy wisely, overdoing it and then feeling burnt out. We don’t really consider bodily vitality as currency but it very much is.

  30. I agree it feels so much more lovely when we surrender to the flow and rhythm rather than trying to control and get things to happen for self, ‘I started to fully understand how much it hurts myself and others when I try to make things happen. It’s a selfish manipulation which takes nothing else into account other than what I want.’

    1. Great point. When I go after something from a place of drive it can not suppprt me or anyone else. When I make a choice in consideration of the All everything flows.

  31. What a beautiful example of what happens when we over ride our bodies, our bodies are very wise, ‘I am realising that my body does let me know whether I am making the right choice or not. If I feel an expansive feeling in my body that means I am making a good choice. If there is tension, I may be making a bad choice or I am resisting making the right choice. In either case my body warns me to look closer at the situation.’ Love it, so true.

  32. There is no right or wrong or even bad or good in the body. Simply what is true and what is not. The good or the bad is what we can label based on the out play of the result of our choices but the body does not judge us ever on what we choose or not. Even though we can may override its messages and do something that is not true, it is still there with us 100% never giving up on sharing with us the truth of who we all are.

  33. Saying No or better phrased saying YES to the body honours what is true. It keeps it super simple and the flow and order of things just happens without effort. It is a great marker of knowing you are on the right track.

  34. So glad to heave read this blog today. When I push on with my own agenda things get messy really quick. It pays to read what is really going on rather than ignoring or being frustrated with accidents and other complications that arise in my life.

  35. It can be hard enough saying ‘no’ to other people sometimes but who would have thought it could be so tricky learning to say ‘no’ to ourselves! It has definitely been worthwhile for me to feel and assess the quality of my thoughts in every moment and it has been a real surprise to find that many thoughts I have are simply not self-supportive but in fact self-abusive and self-destructive and all based on a lie or a belief that I try and convince myself is true. Tricky customer the mind… by the way I’m not crazy, just thought-full 🙂

    1. One might say our most cunning adversary, the mind. For me it seems to want to take control of all the decisions, rather than having its place as a wonderful analytic tool, but to listen to the rest of me equally to be informed of the feelings inside. As you say Andrew, it takes re-training to say ‘No’ and start to promote those feelings as more important than my thoughts.

  36. What a gorgeous example of listening to your body and honouring what it was communicating. It is also a great example of the fact that if it is true for you, from this innermost sensitive part, then it will also be true for all, however much or little they may like to think. A beautiful opportunity for you and your daughter to deepen the relationship you have with one another… this is true support.

  37. What I have noticed is that my mind almost always wants to make a choice based on fear and security where as my body has a wisdom, intelligence and clarity on situations that is way beyond this and so it makes sense to always listen to my body and how it feels when making any decision.

    1. Appreciation is simply the most wonderful thing – I love it when being with another, to be able to appreciate all they bring and express that to them in some way. Its beautiful, so simple, costs nothing, and priceless. Why not do it more? And why not with myself as well?

  38. A brave example of what we open up to when we listen or at least ask a deeper why, why things at times can be so difficult it feels like you are going against something. We have a picture or many pictures of what life should be and then we drive everything to that picture and even when everything around us is saying no we still push ahead. I think this is a great example, a living example of the way to peel things back and to bring more understanding and awareness to why things can be like they are. When you look around us everything respects the flow or the cycles of life and yet we are constantly living to another rhythm or out of the natural and larger rhythm around us. It is only when we open up, like this article that we can be aware of what has been hidden by our past choices. The tension we hold in our body is a great marker for asking what more is going on. We all get feelings, all the time, remember when you were younger? Nothing has change, the feelings are still there we have just learnt a way of being that is able to turn a blind eye to these feelings but nothing stops the feelings, they just keep coming. No wonder on the whole we are becoming more unwell, all those feelings still happening but not acknowledged or dealt with.

  39. These are great examples how very simple life can be when we listen to what we know is true, the outplay may not always be easy but the clarity is there and will stay if we do not waiver from this inner knowing.

  40. Saying no is a really important lesson to learn in life. It may seem unkind at the time or heaven forbid honest, but I have learnt the hard way that it is the only answer when we feel our bodies withdrawal or pulling back from the idea. Then there is no resentment and instead respect.

  41. Having also struggled with saying ‘no’ in the past it is interesting that the more I honour myself and what feels true the easier it has become.

  42. We try so hard to control life but fail to see that life is a product of our choices and how we respond to those outcomes.

  43. Yet again we hear that our body seems to know, almost in advance, of what will be really serving for us, what will be good for us, which path to go down, which road to take, its like its voice never dulls, all we have to do is to start to literally tune in and listen.

  44. I love this sharing Sandra, thank you. There is something innate in us all that ‘sees’ the bigger picture and when we follow this innateness things do work out in ways we were not expecting. I feel it is important that we develop this connection because if we rely solely on our mental abilities we rely on logic, rationality and a limited perception of life. The big picture is felt and not thought and hence the importance of feeling.

  45. There are many things I love in this blog, one the way you discuss the force used to make things happen – if we really stop to feel it, it feels horrendous, so awful and damaging – not one ounce of true love, care or compassion for anyone. We especially do this in relationships, with partners, friends or family. Very manipulate and abusive games we can play – it’s really horrible to feel we do it. No wonder we are all exhausted.

  46. I love this sharing and that when you honoured what you felt it allowed others to take responsibility for what was going on for them and then the reflection to make different choices so that they could support themselves.

  47. This is brilliant. Sometimes I am not sure whether my ‘no’ is a real one. When things don’t run smooth, I can feel something is clearly amiss – then again I sometimes get into a muddle thinking whether I am actually allowing interference to have its way if I stop the whole thing. And there’s self-judgment to follow if things turn out not so brilliantly. Then again, how do I know what is the truest good for the whole? I know from my own experience that it doesn’t always look pretty. I can feel from your sharing that it all comes down to simple honesty.

  48. This is a beautiful sharing Sandra. There have been many times where I overrode what I felt and stubbornly pushed on, when I do this things get complicated and messy quickly. Conversely when I go with the flow and take action from a place of connection life expands and there is only simplicity and beauty.

  49. Some great examples Sandra of the true support, both for ourselves and others in saying no when it is true. We do get those indicators from our bodies, it does know. When we say ‘no’ we are actually saying ‘yes’ to something….truth or not.

  50. There is no denying that if we allow ourselves to not be controlled by the mind we can be open to the messages that are constantly offering us wisdom and support should we choose to stay in connection to the natural flow of life.

  51. I relate to the expansion in the body you are talking about Sandra, the more I commit to meet life through my body first it is something that I experience more and more on a daily basis creating a flow of ease and simplicity.

  52. ‘If there is tension, I may be making a bad choice or I am resisting making the right choice. In either case my body warns me to look closer at the situation.’ Our body knows and your examples are making this very clear. I notice the moment I stop and choose to be honest and trust my feelings the answer is right there. Nevertheless I can put a lot of pressure on myself to keep on going and sometimes I am forced to stop by an accident or my car is not working or other complications. Always time for a closer and truly honest look what I am doing and what the consequences are for me and everyone else. But when it comes this far it feels as an attack on ones own body and truly harming for all others involved.

  53. I have experienced so much anxiety in the past at the mere thought of saying no to someone and yet, on those occasions when I have been able to express it (more and more common these days I’m really glad to say), the reaction, if there has been one, has never been as bad as the one I imagined. What I have learned from this is that if we do not allow the other person the opportunity to respond/react, and feel what is there to be felt, we are in fact judging them to be unable to feel what is being presented. We are basically telling them that we know them better than they do and are therefore not going to bother to give them the grace to feel for themselves. Pretty arrogant isn’t it.

  54. Being shown the true responsibility of life by a parent, just as your daughter has experienced is one of those priceless teachings that will always provide an internal reflection. Thank you for the blog Sandra

  55. There is so much power in the word ‘no’ in getting real about life and what is truly harming in the way we live. We often play games with the comments of saying ‘yes’ to things that our bodies are communicating loud and clear are not needed nor supportive to us in any way. Taking the steps towards using this simple word regularly is definitely exposing to others and can be met with much reaction. The question here is… How much of our decision making is driven by our investments?

  56. This is a beautiful example of how being more honest with ourselves we help others to be more honest with themselves too. And it offers us a whole new awareness of what is going on.

  57. we are so used to manipulating our life’s path for desired outcomes that the very concept of listening to our bodies, that there is an inherent intelligence that knows exactly what we need to do and when we need to do it, has become very foreign to us… Nevertheless as revealed here it is there waiting for us just to listen to it

  58. So good!! The part about choosing not to give your daughter the money is amazing. The outcome far outweighs any temporary relief the money could have provided. I can imagine it would have been a very scary thing to do, saying no…but so inspiring that you did. I’ve been in a similar situation, not with money, and it does hurt to say no, but in the end I realised that not being liked for a little while was nothing compared to what was being presented by being honest in a situation, as relationships that are willing to go there will always grow so much from such scenarios.

  59. I totally relate to your blog Sandra. I used to be terrible at saying ‘no’ and used to push myself to do things I didn’t want to do, this was then filled with resentment and frustration. ‘My body did not want to do it but my mind drove me to act out of fear.’ This is brilliant, it is exactly what drives me to say yes when I meant to say no. It is like there is an internal battle going on between what my body communicates me and what my mind feeds me. Do I choose to listen to my mind or my body? Now, I am learning to choose my body.

  60. Thank you Sandra for sharing, one that I can relate to, I have always been a yes person giving my power away to the needs of others. Things have changed since I have come to be more self loving. The other day i was about to go for a walk when my husband asked me if I would stop at the shop and get something for him, my immediate response was no, just a clear clean no with no emotion at all, we both laughed as it felt so great to be so clear and have that honoured by my husband,

  61. We are so used to letting our mind do the work and to try to make things happen. I totally agree ‘It’s a selfish manipulation which takes nothing else into account other than what I want.’ I have to get used to how effortless and thus simple and joyful it can be when we are in harmony with our natural rhythm, the rhythm impulsed by the universe we are part of, that is there to align to. I love how you say ‘It graces everyone.’ and that’s what life is about, when we come from the love that we are, it is there for everyone equally.

  62. Although I have come to appreciate and acknowledge the power and honouring in saying no I still find myself struggling with it in certain situations but at least I am aware of it now and chipping away a little more each time.

  63. Sandra, reading this I was nodding knowing how it is to live in that perpetual drive to achieve a goal from a picture in my head of what it should be or look like. Recently I’ve experienced so many moments that confirm how super important and loving it is to go with what our body feels and knows. Like not getting something out at work that has been ‘urgent’ and instead of staying back and pushing myself, my body felt to finish and go home, and then management being relieved the next day it didn’t go out, as something needed to be changed. We sometimes see these moments as little miracles, like ‘how did we know’ or ‘that’s amazing’ but in truth it’s just normal when we pay attention, trust and listen to our bodies… as our bodies are constantly feeling energy and all that is going on around us.

    1. Beautifully said Aimee, I have had this exact same situation play out myself. When I stay true to my body everything else is taken care of. What a great reminder to take care of my body so it can take care of me.

  64. We absolutely know when we say no we are saying yes to something and it doesn’t really matter if we say yes or no it’s the energy behind it and if there is a drive and attachment the end result will expose this.

  65. Sandra thank you for sharing your experience, when we do openly and honestly say no, it is a great opportunity for a deeper communication and expression and one that can be equally freeing for everyone involved as it gives everyone the opportunity to express how they really feel.

  66. It’s very interesting how we override our body with our mind and let ourselves be driven by all the different scenarios from our head, which is always at the expense of the body, and ourselves. When we turn it around and listen to our body first we make far more loving choices.

  67. Sandra I can really relate to overriding something that doesn’t feel right due to fear, and the feeling of making it happen with force because I’ve stepped out of the natural flow of things.

  68. Why is it that we think that love means saying ‘yes’ to everything when really there can be more power and love in saying ‘no’?

  69. A beautiful example and lesson Sandra of what happens when we allow the mind to run the show but also what happens when we choose instead to trust the depth of wisdom that in truth is in each and every one of us.

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