When Saying No is Scary
Saying no is scary. And it makes sense that it is for you.
Saying no may have led to being emotionally abandoned. Saying no may have resulted in physical abuse. Saying no might have created an emotional lashing or verbal cutting.
One of my no’s were responded to with a demand that they be allowed to hit me. It was a late Saturday afternoon. We had been laying brick and shovling dirt all day. My body ached and I was tired. But my step-mother’s mania was demanding that we go and dig a pit in the front yard to “put in the pond”.
I had had enough of it and said, “NO”. She raised her hand to hit me and I caught it. “You will let me hit you.”
And I did.
This made my NO very, very scary and confusing to me. It had resulted in a violation of my body by being hit and I’d voluntarily given up my power.
These days, such a thing would not happen, as I would walk away from this kind of situation. No one – and I mean this literally – has the right to harm us or hurt us! Any form of abuse is not acceptable.
Saying no is also scary for another, more subtle reason: when we say no, we feel like our emotional and physical welfare are being put on the line. This means we feel like we’re risking the withdraw of love, approval, inclusion, and support when we stand up for our boundaries and ourselves.
This comes from our early experiences. The parent/caretaker/authority punished us by taking away their approval, their love, and their presence. This caused us to fear being abandoned by them emotionally and even physically, creating a deep confusion in us. We had a boundary and a desire AND we faced losing our more vital and important connections if we stood up for it.
We may have come to believe our needs and wants and boundaries are harmful and threatening to ourselves (and to others since they reacted in such toxic ways). This confusion is part of what drives our resistance to seeing and acknowledging ourselves.
Our healing quest here is to internalize that our needs, wants, and boundaries are actually good, wholesome, legitimate, and deserve respect. This gives us back our natural power and restores our right to occupy our own space and defend it if necessary. It also puts our abusers where they properly belong: in the circle of accountability.
Discipline does not involve abuse of any kind – ever. Proper, healthy discipline involves discussion, agreement to boundaries, rules and consequences, and then execution of those if necessary. Consequences are focused on the withdraw of privileges and not on the wirthdraw of love, presence, approval, or of any physical abuse.
So, getting our NO back starts with us legitamizing our NO. You can do that with this simple exercise you practice daily for the next few weeks:
- I give myself permission to say no when I mean no
- I give myself permission to disappoint others by saying no
- I give others permission (in my mind) to be disappointed and
- I give myslef permission not to fix their disappointment
Take back your no and discover your happiness again.