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Saying NO As a Form of Self-Compassion

Saying NO has been a strong theme on the coaching calls last week.

It's interesting to notice a common pattern with the women, whom I work with. They are seemingly in very different situations: a mature corporate leader in Portugal, an impact entrepreneur in Berlin, a US-expat jobseeker, and a freelance coach in Italy. All of them are human beings facing similar challenges: how to keep their integrity, show up for themselves and make wise choices.

They said NO to a narcissistic boss’s request, to a promotion with unrealistic responsibilities, to a job offer that checked all the boxes but their gut feeling said no, and to a highly qualified client who wasn’t a match on an energetic level.

They said YES to their integrity, values, long-term vision, and energy.

They put the consequences of potential NOs and YESes on a balance in the long term. You’ll have a client now, but less energy later. You’ll have a job earlier, but you’d disrespect your needs, and put yourself in situations of moving to another country.

Saying NO involves respect.

Respect people around you, starting with yourself.

Take a deep breath.

What does NO feel like to you? How do you experience it in your body?

What does YES feel like? How can you recognize it?

How many times do you say YES when you rather feel it's a NO?

You say yes to a project, a job, or a client because you don't want to miss out. You're afraid of being judged. You're afraid of not being invited again. You're afraid of not having a second or a better chance. You're afraid of rejection or want to avoid a conflict. 

These are all valid. 

We want to be liked and accepted. 

What's on the other side?

When you're in a vulnerable position, put on the spot, or face-to-face with someone else, you can miss to be straightforward about your boundaries. You might jump into a premature agreement, try to fix things, or say a quick yes to something to please the other. At times it happens unconsciously and you might only notice it later. 

Brene Brown says we often don’t set boundaries, we let people do things that are not okay, and then we’re resentful. We tend to imagine that setting a boundary means being rude or pushy. 

It's the opposite though. 

Research says that people with strong boundaries are the ones who are the most compassionate. Having poor boundaries can mean overextending yourself and giving away your power. It keeps you from living your truth. 

Setting boundaries that uphold your values and allow you to practice self-care is a self-compassionate act. 

You're saying YES to yourself.

🤔 Question

Think about a situation when you wanted to say no and you did not.

What would it look like to honor your NO?

💡 Resources

Blog: The art of saying NO for questions and tips

Mindset exercise:

From the Art of Saying NO workbook. Available for my Coaching Clients in the Resource Library

🥘 Practice NO On The Plate

Bringing awareness to the plate is a delicious way of transforming beliefs and habits. Our relationship with food and eating is vital. It reflects our relationship with life itself. Try these bite-sized exercises to create your new reality.

Can you say NO to the last bite when you had enough? Divide your meal on the plate into two parts. When you ate the first portion, make a pause, put down the utensil and take an internal look at how full you are. How much you will eat from the remaining portion? How can you say NO to what's still on the plate?

👋 I'm curious to hear your insights, ideas, and reflections. Did this article inspire you to take action or do something differently? I'd love to hear from you. 


Zsanett Czifrus is a Transformational Coach for Women. Superfood is her self-coaching newsletter to transform and nourish yourself one letter at a time. 


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