How to Overcome Your Fear of Saying No


“I don’t want to say no because I’m afraid that I’ll be judged as rude and unlikable. Also, who am I to say no?”

This is what one of my coaching clients shared with me this week when discussing how to shift the overwhelm and depletion she’s been feeling as a result of not being able to say no to tasks, activities and people who suck her time away from what’s really important to her.

Can you relate?

In my last post I gave you questions to contemplate to get you started on creating freedom through boundaries. This week I want to tackle the underlying fears that keep you in the cycle of saying yes to others and no to yourself. Because when you say yes to something (or someone) there’s always something (or someone) else you’re saying no to.

If, like my client, you’re ready to start saying yes to yourself and tackle your fears around saying no, read on.

The fear of not being liked

It’s true. When you say no to a person who is accustomed to hearing yes from you, they may not like it, and they could get upset.

Their reaction has less to do with you, and mostly to do with them, and their co-dependence on you.

When you say no you’re holding them accountable and asking them to step up and take something on. You could also call that empowerment, but they probably won’t like it at first.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of investing a lot of your time and energy into looking good and being liked. I’ve been there and it’s miserable because I ended up being liked by others, but not liking myself.

You only have this life to live. Live it according to what’s important to you, not what’s important to others.

There’s a passage from the Bhagavad Gita that I love: “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”

Who Am I to Say No?

anna levesque art of self care

Let’s call this old story what it is, a bunch of bs!

Who are you NOT to say no, and live your one, precious life according to what makes you joyful?

You are not how many tasks you say yes to, and you are not how likable you are. Stop equating your self worth with what you do and start equating it with who you are, and who you want to become.

If you continue to equate your self-worth with your productivity then you’ll never be able to say no and your opportunity to make a bigger contribution to the world based on what you’re passionate about will slip through your fingers.

Selfishly, I don’t want you to waste this opportunity because I want to benefit from the contribution that you ARE based on what’s important to you! So, thank you for stepping up and having the courage to say no!

The Fear of Being Judged

I can very much relate to this fear! I’ve spent a lot of time fearful of being judged. Let me tell you, it’s joyless.

The truth is that it’s a lot harder to create and perform than it is to criticize and judge.

You may very well be judged when you start saying yes to what’s important to you.

This week Penny Oleksiak became the most decorated Canadian Olympic swimmer in history. She tweeted this: “I just googled “Canada’s most decorated Olympian” and my name came up. I want to thank that teacher in high school who told me to stop swimming to focus on school bc swimming wouldn’t get me anywhere. This is what dreams are made of.”

I can relate to Penny’s tweet. So many people told me to stop kayaking and get a ‘real job.’ They told me there was no way I could make a living following my passion. If I had bought into their judgements I would be stuck in a law office somewhere miserably doing work that was unsatisfying. No thank you. I’m proud of where kayaking has brought me and stoked on the contribution that I am to my readers and clients.

Don’t listen to or believe armchair quarterbacks who don’t know your dreams, don’t have your experience, or your vision. Let them waste their time judging you all they want while you spend your time taking action to create your best, most joyful and impactful life.

What’s the impact?

All of this to say that one of the most compelling ways to overcome your fear of saying no is getting present to the impact that it has on your health, your confidence and your joy. What outcome will you remember most or be most proud of at the end of your life? Get present to that to help you find your courage.

If you want guidance on finding your courage to say no so you can say yes to your most vibrant, healthy and adventurous life, I can help! Ask me about my 90 day, 6 month or 1 year Mind Body Adventure coaching programs that empower and support you in living a life that you love. Email Me Here