Codependency: How to say No (Part 1 of 4)

Can you say No? Are you comfortable with this word? Can you hear a No? Can you say a No? All of us have conversations and all of us have to come up with answers to people’s questions, comments, or ideas. When we talk, one of the things we are doing is providing answers. And when you answer, you want to make sure you feel comfortable with answering with a no.

Let’s talk about Sue. Someone calls her and asks her for something or to do something. She is aware in her head to say no. She knew the request from this someone was going to be time consuming, require for her to give money, and may include a long term commitment. But instead of saying no, Sue came up with excuses or tries to point out the timing was not right or that she did not think it would be a good idea.

Deep down Sue wants to say no but this two letter word could not go from her head onto her tongue and out of her mouth. Most people that I work with have a desire to say no but are unsure or afraid to say no. Sue is learning how to say no but still has some fears or hesitations of how to do this.

When I help people learn how to say no, I first want to gather a history of how they have said this word or a history of what they have been taught when it comes to both hearing and communicating this word. For example, who is their family of origin was able to teach them how to say no? Did a parent model how to say no? From your childhood, maybe you were taught that saying no was a frightening thing. Maybe a no came from an angry ragging parent who yelled and screamed this word no and you found yourself afraid hiding from this person.

Thus the first place to learn how to say no is look into your past. Who did or did not model how to say no. Was this model healthy or unhealthy? For most people, it probably was unhealthy given the emotional damage it may have caused you. Pleasing codependents tend to have had a fear base upbringing, where the child felt anxious or insecure and they would hide their no by learning how to be complaint or pleasing.

So if you are going to learn how to say no, you are going to have to begin with asking this question: Your hesitation to say no, does it come from your childhood upbringing and if so, now as an adult, can you give yourself permission to say no now as an adult? That is the invitation for all of us: to be an adult and learn how to say no. So my question to you is this: What is it costing you to be insecure and afraid now as an adult? What are you afraid of when it comes to saying no now?