How I’ve (Finally) Learned to Say “No”

Saying "no" --

¿Porqué nos cuesta tanto decir NO?

I ask myself that all the time. Why is it so freaking hard to say no?

My gut tells me immediately. I feel my whole body tighten up and send all sorts of alarm signals that, in all honesty, I do feel and recognize but decide to completely ignore. ¿Te pasa lo mismo?

Why do we do that? Why do we ignore our body’s ancient wisdom of fight or flight?

I can’t give you a scientific explanation for it, y qué flojera, but I can share with you what I’ve learned about why I have such a hard time saying “no”.

I’m scared.

Yes, I have a hard time saying “no” to people because I’m terrified they will think negatively of me. They will think I’m not helpful enough. Or maybe that I’m not good enough to say “yes”. Or that I don’t believe in them or will just hurt their feelings if I don’t agree.

So I say “yes”, and go along until I just can’t go along anymore and saying yes to that denies me of my real path. And then I resent. I start looking for the way out. I obsess over falling back into my own trap full of fears and denials. I start failing, I start becoming exactly that which I wanted to avoid being if I said “no”, but it’s inevitable.

Then the no’s start flying out of my mouth in anger and impatience to those around me I love the most: my daughter and my husband … and myself. The way we react to those close to us is a reflection of who we are at that moment.

It’s just so not worth it to be afraid anymore.

And that’s how I learned to say YES to me. To put my Self first.

My dear friend Morena Escardó of led me to watch a video with Cheryl Richardson, author of the book The Art of Extreme Self Carethat really put in perspective that I was worrying too much about disappointing others and the guilt that would ensue,  ultimately betraying myself in the process.

Then my astrologer (sí, tengo astroloca de cabezera y la adoro!!) Sue Valencia of Una Luna Dos Lunas, reminded me that it’s in my essence to want to be a giver, a protective mother figure that’s loved by all and that one of the main lessons I have to learn in this life is to take care of myself and not depend on others. To go against my I-give-it-all-to-you-before-I-give-to-me nature. If you read my Lean In story, you’ll see that I recognized and started working on that a few years ago.

But life work is never done and the pattern of saying “yes” when I know I’m getting myself in trouble and moving away from my path is a work-in-progress.

So will you work with me? Do you have something in your life you’re screaming to say “no” to but don’t have the guts to do it por no quedar mal?

Reach out to me. Here, email, el fais, a tweet .. wherever you’re more comfortable and I’ll give you el empujón to do it. You push me, I push you. ¿Va?

Let’s do this. Let’s say YES to our true Self.

That one “no” will bring a world of “yes”. I promise.


    • Ana says

      I respect you so much that I get excited when you “love” what I write! :) Funny thing is I don’t even feel “brave” spilling me guts, I feel relieved. I might have to filter myself soon! ha!

    • Ana says

      Y así aprendo yo también! And instead of the Gods punishing us we actually get rewarded for staying real. Now, if I could only teach my girl this now she would have it made!

  1. says

    Well said Ana! Saying “no” is really hard for me too, but lately I’ve been trying to focus in what brings the most fulfillment in life. To be doing way too many things at the same time is distracting, and not fun. Saying “NO” is powerful.

    I have to say “no” to my blog at this time, and believe it or not if feels bien chido!!!! Meanwhile, I’m trying to reconnect to my real purpose in life. I want to be in the right place, doing the right thing and I’m taking the time de perderme para poder encontrarme otra vez.

    • Ana says

      Let’s talk, Danielly. I didn’t know you had put your blog on hold. The good thing is you’re allowing yourself to feel that it feels bien chido..y eso es una maravilla!

      Y tienes toda la razón en lo de perderte para encontrarte de nuevo. Es echar fuego para hacer todo cenizas y volver a renacer cómo el ave Fénix. Sabes mi frase favorita? La hora más oscura del día es justo antes del amanecer.

  2. says

    My fear of commitment keeps me pretty well-balanced with saying “no” to enough things that I don’t feel overwhelmed, but I definitely understand the reasoning behind the times you say “yes.” Aside from a personality thing, I think it’s a female thing. It’s in our nature as well as being beaten into us by society (and our own mothers) that we should take care of everyone and everything and be happy while doing it.

    There’s a very cliché story about how if you were on an airplane during an emergency and the air masks came down, you would need to put on your own to better be able to help others, but it’s true and always paints a very visual reminder that we need to care for ourselves in order to properly care for others.

    Love the post, Ana. {abrazos}

    • Ana says

      Thanks, my friend!
      Yes, the oxygen mask analogy is one I use often because it’s so real. Our instinct as givers is to make sure everyone else is fine before we are, and few of us challenge that perception because, as you say, it’s ingrained in us.

  3. says


    Second: This has been my #1 resolution to myself for 2014. I’m getting better at it. I’m also getting better at saying “Yes…IF you pay me for my time!” :-)

    Here’s to taking good care of ourselves xo

    • Ana says

      WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??!! found me! ;)

      Glad you’re working on this too. It’s such a work in progress, but so worth it. And the topic of asking for what we’re worth is one you don’t even want to get me started with..or maybe yes…I’ll write about that revelation soon!
      I still don’t value myself as I should in the monetary sense and I always get beaten up because of that, but I’m learning!
      Let’s do this, girl!

  4. says

    Preach it sister! In the last month or so I’ve been put in some positions where I had to say no to certain things even though the money was good. I was spreading myself very thin and was going bonkers so I decided to start saying no to offers that I felt were’t necessarily out for my best interest. The level of clarity and stress and balance in my life is so much better now. It is so worth saying no and watching my own back.

    • Ana says

      I was seeing you go that way and it’s part of the whole path to success. Once you start saying no to those things you thought you could never say no to and then realize that it was a good decision, then it gets easier.

      And having a good support of viejas that we we can all help each other get a good perspective is essential as well.

  5. says

    To start, I love your guts. So thank you for sharing them with us. Secondly, at this very moment, I’m saying yes to everything for fear that it’s going to all go away. That somehow, everything that has made me feel accomplished will vanish because I can’t possibly be enough. Ay Dios… I probably shouldn’t even write this, pero hijole, its the truth. I feel the no’s coming though, and like Nicole said, I hope it brings some balance and clarity to my life. Pero para ahora, I’m all yes and all in… and praying it doesn’t go away! I don’t feel bad about it, but it’s where I’m at currently. Besos y abrazos, amiga.

  6. says

    Wow!!! Ana, eres lo máximo de claridad y honestidad. “Trabajar” contigo creo que me ha dejado más lecciones a mi que a nadie. Gracias por tu capacidad para detectar las áreas y nunca soltar hasta que te sientes satisfecha. You are an amazing inspiration Ana!!!

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