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How to Say “No” Without Feeling Bad

How would you like it if you could say “No” without feeling bad? I heard this positive and exciting reframe for the word “No.”

No means “Next Opportunity.” 

Hearing this new perspective on the word No made it feel like you’re actually helping the person move on to their next opportunity. How’s that for a positive reframe?

Next opportunity is just one positive reframe for saying “no,” and there are others that I’ll share with you so that you can choose the one that’s most appropriate to the situation that you’re in. 

By the way, it’s normal to experience the discomfort of having to say No to someone. Sometimes you have to say it because you just don’t have the time or the bandwidth to add another thing onto your plate. Other times, you say it because maybe the offer feels out of alignment or you just don’t want to.

The question is: How often do you end up saying “Yes” to things you really don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do simply because you feel bad saying “No”?

Sometimes, it's easier to deny or say "no" to ourselves than to say it to another person.

When you say “no” to yourself, you look good on the outside; but it’s at the expense of feeling bad on the inside. Sometimes that’s a better option than having the world perceive you in a way you don’t want or – worse – carrying guilt!

Not wanting to feel guilt is a common reason people feel resistance to saying “no.” The problem with feeling guilt repeatedly is that it becomes a habit. Anything you repeat over and over, your unconscious mind starts to automate for you. It does this to save you energy and help you to be more efficient. In time, your mind will connect saying “no” with feelings of guilt. Eventually, saying “no” instantly triggers guilt. Thus, feeling guilt becomes a habit for you and a vicious cycle.

Here's how to break this cycle.


Notice the mental habit loop or vicious cycle you’re caught up in. 


Interrupt the cycle by taking 3 deep breaths. Focus on feeling gratitude for catching yourself mid-cycle and the fact that you can make a change. 

Switch Tracks

Now that you’ve interrupted that pattern of thinking by taking some deep breaths, you have the opportunity to switch tracks in your mind and go down a different thought path that will lead to you feeling good.

It’s time to change the meaning you’ve assigned to saying “no.: Choose to make saying “no” equal something positive instead of negative.

But first, here's what's really causing you to feel uncomfortable saying "no."

You’re concerned or worried about:

  • How you’ll make someone feel.
  • What other people will think of you.
  • How you’ll look to other people.

One of my clients once said to me, “If I say ‘no,’ then I’m being unreasonable. I’m the bad person.”

This is an example of why saying “no” is hard. It’s what we make saying “no” mean about us or about the situation. 

In other words, we make saying “no” equal something negative.

Another reason why saying "no" is hard is because it may conflict with one of your values.

Let me give you an example. One of my clients valued being dependable. So whenever a family member or friend asked her for a favor, she’d say “yes,” even when she didn’t want to or didn’t have the time to. She’d end up feeling overwhelmed with too many things on her plate. In her mind, saying “no” meant she wasn’t being dependable or that her family would think she’s not a dependable person. 

Are these facts? Can her saying “no” mean something else? 

After asking this client some powerful questions, she realized saying “no” aligned with her other value for being in integrity with her word. There were times in the past where she said “yes” to a family member but couldn’t keep her word because of all her other commitments, and they ended up being disappointed. Once we shifted her focus, she decided saying “no” meant that she was in integrity. This new, empowering decision helped her say “no” without feeling bad. 

Believe it or not, saying “no” can be easier than you think, and it starts by looking at this 2-letter word differently.

Asking yourself these 3 questions will help you become aware of what's really causing you to have a hard time saying "no."

  • What am I making saying “no” mean about this situation?
  • What am I making saying “no” mean about me?
  • What am I making saying “no” mean about the other person?

Your answers to these questions will help you understand the thoughts in your mind that are making you feel uncomfortable saying “no.” 

Once you’re aware of these thoughts, you can put them on trial like a lawyer and question their validity. When you realize they’re not true or hard facts, you can reframe them to better-feeling thoughts that might be true. I show you exactly how to do this in my C.A.L.M.™ Method guide, which you can download free here

Reframing is the art of seeing things from another perspective. When you reframe thoughts that don’t feel good, you are intentionally focusing on what you do want and what else might be possible.

Here are some positive reframes for what saying "no" might mean:

  • “No” means you value the person’s time, so you choose to let them move on to a better opportunity as quickly as possible. 
  • “No” means you care enough about the person to give an honest response and maintain positive feelings toward them.
  • “No” means it’s important to you to honor and follow through on your current commitments to other people and things.

Here are some ways you can say "no" and feel good about it:

  • No, thank you.
  • I’m not able to do that. I have some prior commitments, and it’s important for me to follow through and deliver what I say I will. You understand, don’t you?
  • I’m sorry, I’m going to have to say “no” at this time. I want to give you the opportunity to find someone else who has the time and ability to help you, because that’s what you deserve.

The bottom line is that doing something you really don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do can lead to overwhelm, frustration, blame, anger, resentment, dislike and disconnection.

This doesn’t have to be your experience. You now have the awareness and some tools and reframes to help you say “no” when you want to or need to. 

What if saying “no” could be easier? You get to decide!

If you want to go deeper and find out how I can help you overcome your specific challenges or obstacles, apply for a free Chaos to Clarity Call by clicking here.

From actress to teacher to entrepreneur, Nikki Gangemi knows what it takes to make those big pivots and has found a way to accelerate her success from the inside out, to become the leading lady of her life and to live it on her own terms.

Nikki is an International Board Certified Success & Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, Clinical Hypnotherapist, speaker, author, and founder of Mindful Matters LLC, though she calls herself a Personal Trainer for Your Mind!

Nikki helps entrepreneurs break through the limiting beliefs that hold them back, using her C.A.L.M.™ Framework, so they feel more motivated and achieve the results they want.

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