The Power of No

Life is short, live it for you, not everyone else.

No is a powerful word many of us shun.

We believe that by saying yes rather than no, we reduce conflict in our lives. Does this work? In the short term perhaps. Arguments with others may be temporarily avoided as we desperately scrabble around trying to keep the peace. But the problem is we inadvertently create conflict within ourselves. Conflict that at some point we can no longer ignore.

How do we fix this?

How do we change our resistance to one of the strongest and most important words in our vocabulary? The short answer is that we don’t need to avoid no, we just need to learn how to say it differently.

For as long as I can remember, I was a people pleaser who intensely disliked disagreements. Worried that I’d upset someone or let the other person down, my stomach would tighten like a knot. I was often more concerned about how they were feeling, than whether I had been right to say no in the first place.

As I reflect on these years, I realise I repeatedly compromised myself.

I put myself last but expected others to put me first. Does this sound familiar? When I should have been my biggest cheerleader, I was the one doubting myself and my decisions the most. What changed?

Repeated hurts and discomfort became too hard to disregard; this way of being was not serving me. It was not who I really was, nor who I wanted to be. Wisdom kicked in. With practice, I learnt to say no, but with love. Expressing myself slightly differently empowered me to be more comfortable with people not always liking my decisions or being disappointed with me. It allowed me to be more authentic and to show people the real me.

Let’s consider the following scenario.

A friend asks you to go to dinner with a group of other people that you have nothing in common with. You don’t want to go, but you’re conscious of hurting your friend’s feelings. What would you usually say? “I’d love to, but work is busy right now, I don’t know what time I’ll finish. It’s also not payday until next week, and I need to be in bed by 10pm.” All those reasons may be valid, but to your friend, it sounds just like excuses. Left wondering which reason is the real one, she begins to question whether any of your explanations are true because your justification is so elaborate. Know this. It’s okay that you don’t want to do something, there’s no need to substantiate it. Why you can’t do something is no one else’s business except your own. No does not need to be negative. In fact, giving yourself permission to say no is such a gift. A plain and simple no, without all the alibis and fuss is exceptionally liberating. 

So how do you verbalise your no?

Try this simple phrase. “Unfortunately, I can’t make it, but I hope you have a fantastic time.” That’s it. Full stop. It’s more genuine than a long list of reasons. Said from a loving place, this is the best way to deliver any message.

Once I understood this, life became more straightforward.

Today I’m better at honouring my boundaries and choosing where I spend my time. If something doesn’t resonate with me, for whatever reason, I say no. I believe I’m important enough to do this, but that doesn’t mean I’m full of self-importance. I’m not a superhero, and neither are you. Sometimes we have to say no, we can’t be in five different places at the same time, even if we wanted to. Deliver no simply, with love and kindness, and let everyone else work out the rest. Life is to be enjoyed, don’t waste your time fretting about other people and whether your no upset them or not.

Life is short, live it for you, not everyone else.


Sarah Willoughby

Sarah Willoughby is an Author, Speaker, Spiritual Mentor, Reiki Practitioner and Intuitive Energy Healer. Passionate about encouraging people to reconnect with themselves and love who they are, Sarah is committed to empowering each person she works with to heal, be peaceful and transform their life. Sarah’s forthcoming book on self-love through secondary infertility, is motivated by a desire to be a voice for others, help remove the silence and provide hope to those navigating this difficult path.

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Vasudevan Bhattathir

no is always a powerful word but if we use quite often that may create isolation and you may get same response if we are need. I think we should use it only after deliberation. use this when absolutely needed


This is a good suggestion I find myself sometimes giving an excuse why I say no. I do decline invitations or wanted favors, but most time I give the value explanation as to why. I believe just saying I’d live to but can’t is enough thank you I am determined not to over explain myself anymore just say no I can’t.


Thank you for your information. Bryant and Jenni

No is not a powerful word. It only help you to refuse something unwanted.

It depend on your mind.

Thank you for your attention.

Best Regards,

Mary Davis

I love this so much Sarah! It was very timely for me today, and I actually used your wording when turning something down. Empowering and exhilarating. Thank you for your wisdom, warmth and compassionate voice. xo

Angeliki Anastasia

Incredibly heroic article! Lately I’ve said uncountable nos because finally I can think also, I have an opinion too! Of course I lost many friends but it’s ok because they were never my friends, they just pretended to be. What matters is that I feel free and I learned a valuable life changing lesson! Thank you lovely Sara and I give infinity yeses to your authentic article!!! 👑🏆🙏😇❤️🥇💕❣️🌟⭐️💫


It took me many years to realize this truth! I caused myself more harm than good but now have learned to turn it around. Great article Sarah!


This is great! I need to go over this again.

Sheela Chilloyee
Sheela Chilloyee

Thk u very much. It is now I’m realising this .I always trying to please others . Thk u so much and have a good day.

Paulina Bagunas
Paulina Bagunas

What an inspiring article. Saying No is really very hard to do for the sake of not hurting the feelings of others. But I have learned a lesson from this. Not everytime I have to say yes. it gives me so much stress and pain emotionally. They are taking advantage over me. Thanks for this topic. It gives me so much courage facing the reality of life. God bless

Edgar Maldonado
Edgar Maldonado

Awesome,”Not this time,I have other plans thanks!”. Pretty simple works for me…….