Help Saying No

Do you struggle with saying no? 

You are not alone.  Clients often share how difficult it is saying no, particularly to family members.  Sometimes the clash becomes cyclical as parents struggle with saying no to children and adult children struggle with saying no to parents.  Often saying no to a family member is fraught with a tangled web of emotions and roles that each person has played out over the course of many years without taking note of the interwoven connectedness.  Being truthful with ourselves and with others is a helpful first step.  It may be that we need to set boundaries with family members.

In her book, No!  How One Simple Word Can Transform Your Life, Jana Kemp has several models to help with a decision to say no (or yes). 

In one model, she uses the following acronym:

  • Purpose
  • Options
  • When/Timing
  • Emotional Ties
  • Rights and Responsibilities

This model may be helpful in thinking through interactions with your family and thinking about your purpose in saying no (or yes) and looking at the many different options which may present themselves. 

What if the timing is just not right or you say yes simply because it is easier on you emotionally than saying no?  Sometimes you may take on roles and responsibilities in unhealthy ways and setting boundaries is beneficial to your overall well being.  Perhaps you put everyone else’s needs above your own and think it is selfish to put your needs first. Maybe it is easier to give than receive in a relationship.  Sometimes saying no to our children or our parents or any other family member helps you to recognize you are a separate individual with your own feelings and desires. 

Sometimes saying no helps you recognize your own voice in a relationship.

Written by: GROW Staff

Article Updated: January 25, 2024