Can you say “No”?

Do you find it hard to say “No” to requests… and instead do you hear the words “yes” coming out of your mouth even as you feel your heart go heavy???

As people move along their coaching journey with me, they find joy in discovering their true inner voice. Yet often one of the hardest things is to risk saying “No”.

So today I’m starting a series about saying “No” and why it deeply matters in creating enriching and honest relationships.

In my NVC Foundation Trainings I often share this diagram to illustrate…

As you can see, the sweet spot of joyful giving is to be able to say “yes” or “no” from a place of full heartedness – and being connected to the needs of the other too. Sounds so simple!!!

But my experience is it isn’t.

This has been a huge journey for me – to know what I need in the moment and to learn to say “No”… so that I can say a true (not compliant or manipulative) “yes”.

I was the eldest of 5 children, with a very sick father, and a mother who regularly used direction and compliance to steer the well being of her family. I knew my mother was under stress and I learnt to go along with what she asked. And sometimes to rebel. When I spoke up, I was told I was demanding and wanting attention. That I was selfish. I was told: “why can’t you just go along with what we are all doing?”

In what I was told by my mum (and my own self talk), I was “always” over on the right side of the see-saw diagram. I was labelled “Self-ish”, and I shouldn’t be.

So I (sometimes) tried to be more Self-less. The right side of the see-saw. To suppress what was coming up for me and go along with everyone else.

And I oscillated between the 2, being judged and judging myself, suppressing and expressing, but all from trying to be some ideal version of myself.

I’m wondering if you relate to this?

I didn’t know there was a third and much truer and fulfilling option.

And I now have compassion in knowing that when my mother called me “demanding”, what she actually was desperate for was ease, and support, and for the needs of the whole family to be considered.

I wonder how it was for you growing up?

Did you have parents who helped you to know what you needed? Who listened to you compassionately AND held their own needs precious too and shared that honestly and non judgmentally with you? Who were able to say “no” and share with you what matters to them behind their “no”?

If we didn’t have this modelling, how can we know how to do this ourselves??? its not on our televisions. Its not in our newspapers. And our friends mostly don’t have it.

This might sound utopian!!! But honestly its not!

I see the people coming through NVC trainings living from this place with their children and their children then learning these skills.

I see teachers learning this for themselves and modelling it and teaching it with children in their classes.

And I saw my 9 year old son respectfully express himself with his (very strict) teacher to share his “no” in being asked to stay in with all “the boys” at lunchtime when other children were the ones talking. Now he is 26 and Im still so proud of him!