Episode 40: How Do I Say ‘No’ Without Feeling Bad?

As we’re learning to set boundaries, we have to make those hard decisions- who we say yes to and who we say no to. In today’s episode, we’re learning how we can handle disappointing others as we’re setting those boundaries and the genuine struggle that comes with the territory of saying no. As we peel back the layers of our decision-making process, it’s clear that our values and fears hold significant sway. I delve into how commitment and fairness can lead us down a path of overextension, and why the fear of judgment often keeps us trapped in a cycle of pleasing others. We talk about the uncomfortable but essential practice of disappointing others to safeguard your own well-being and how to navigate the intricate dance of managing others’ expectations while staying true to ourselves.

We look at strategies to help you balance your desire to support those around you with the absolute need to honor your personal limits. By the end of our time together, you’ll understand that it’s not only acceptable to prioritize your needs, but it’s also crucial for maintaining healthy and genuine connections.

What you will learn on this episode:

– The challenges and discomfort that come with saying “no” to others.

– The role of values in guiding decision-making and prioritizing actions.

– Recognizing the difference between healthy and unhealthy desires to please.

– Insights on balancing commitments to others with honoring your own well-being.

– Strategies for managing the fear of judgment and losing approval when disappointing others.

– Learning to prioritize your needs without feeling selfish.

– Communicating boundaries with integrity, compassion, and love.

– The necessity of being able to tolerate the feeling of disappointing others for personal growth.

– Techniques for saying “no” in a way that preserves relationships and personal integrity.



*This transcription below was provided for you or your convenience; please excuse any mistakes that the automated service made in translation.

As we’re learning to set boundaries. We have to make those hard decisions who we say yes to and who we say no to. In today’s episode, we’re learning how we can handle disappointing others as we’re setting those boundaries. This is Leadership Parenting, episode number 40, how to Disappoint Others when you have to Say no. 

We are here with another question and answer episode, and here is our question for today. I’ve been working on setting boundaries and saying yes to the things that are highest on my priority list, but I’m still having a problem with feeling bad when I say no to someone. I just hate disappointing them, and so I often give in so they don’t feel bad and I don’t feel bad. What can I do? Well, thank you so much for this question, and I just love that you’re focusing on choosing what to say yes to. This goes really well with our last episode on setting goals. We all are going to have to say no to some things because we’ve chosen to say yes to others as we spend time on our highest priorities in our life and this is so hard, isn’t it? I wish I could say that we don’t ever have to say no to people, that we could just do everything that we’re asked to do, and we could really make everybody around us happy, kind of please them. But the truth is that we are always sorting out who and what to say yes to, and so many women that I work with worry about letting people down, and I’m one of those people. I really don’t like to let people down. If I could, I would be saying yes to everyone, so I think it’s a problem that is worth spending some time on and I’m grateful for this question. So today, let’s talk a little bit about the pressure we feel to please and how much we try to avoid disappointing others. 


I think I’ve been on this journey of setting boundaries for many years, as I’ve realized that I only have a certain amount of time that I can commit and I have to make decisions about how I’m going to use that time. And for a lot of years I didn’t do this very well. Every child that joined my family as I was having children, meant I had to share that time that I had and divide it up more and more among the activities and opportunities to volunteer in the schools and church and community, as well as trying to be a good support to my friends and listen and help wherever I could and be a good wife, a good therapist, a good neighbor, a good mom. I mean, that’s a lot of things we’re trying to accomplish and after a while I kind of hit a wall when I was a young mother, meaning I kind of had a health crisis that demanded I just stop. I had to just stop everything and just focus on taking care of myself, because in the huge list of people that I supported and cared for, I was very low on that list, and this was because I didn’t want to say no, basically because I didn’t want to disappoint others. Disappointing others was something I would avoid at all costs. I just hated it. Hence my burnout and a really great lesson learned about setting boundaries in a way that allowed me the room to make my own decisions so I could ultimately take care of myself. 


So as we talk about making these kinds of decisions, it falls in the category of setting boundaries. So let’s review quickly what boundaries are. Boundaries exist to help us stay in safe places, both physically and emotionally. They are meant for us, not for other people. They guide us as we make decisions and they define what we will do when we face decisions about our time, about our choices, about our resources. I put boundary setting in the self-protection pillar of the resiliency system because they do just that they protect us. They protect us from losing our power. They protect us and help us take care of ourselves. 


So the truth is we have to make decisions about our time and our energy and our resources and, whether we realize it or not, we are always making these decisions. Sometimes it’s in a conscious way, where we’re aware of it, and sometimes it’s subtle and it happens kind of by default under our awareness. And that default happens especially when we feel pressure to please others. We can let our fear of disappointing others make those decisions for us. It’s kind of like handing other people our power, but in the name of trying to be a good citizen or a good friend or a good mom. So it can be kind of tricky. We have to learn to disappoint others and be okay. We have to learn it because there will always be someone somewhere who is going to be disappointed as we are making decisions about our time and where we place our energy. And if you’re making your decisions based upon avoiding that disappointment, you’re going to lose that power. Even when others don’t mean to take the power from us, we’ll lose it if we’re doing things, making choices, solely to avoid disappointing people. 


But it’s not that simple, right. I mean, I think it’s rather complicated this whole decision-making process about when to please and when not to please. If I just told every husband and wife that they should get really good at disappointing each other, I’d be a pretty terrible marital therapist, just kind of stirring up a revolt in each marriage. And if I told kids they should try to disappoint their parents, well, hopefully their parents would fire me immediately as a therapist, right? Because there really is a place for a child to want to please their parents. And when we put it into the context of following their parents’ lead, learning how to follow the values of the family and of society. A kid pleasing their parents is actually a really good thing. And for couples to have a culture of collaboration and teamwork with each other where they try not to disappoint each other. They make an effort to honor and respect each other. This is part of healthy relationships. So there’s nothing odd or wrong with having this tendency to want to please and avoid disappointing others. Because we want to get along, we want to be supportive, be a team player all of that you know. 


I think about my dad especially how much I was really driven to not want to disappoint him, and I think this came from wanting to show him respect and kind of live up to the person he was teaching me to be, especially because the things he expected from me were really what I could see were protective. They were healthy for me. He was teaching me to be a good human and I wanted him to be proud of me. I really wanted to be like him and a lot of my decisions as a child and young adult were linked to following the path that he and my mom showed me. Basically, I think we have that desire to please build into us as part of human survival. That’s how parents lead their children. They develop this relationship with their kids so that kids will follow them. Out of respect for that relationship, I also think of my relationship with God. This way, I strive to follow a spiritual path that helps me make my decisions so that I try to please God. 



So it helps to understand our desire to please, that it’s natural and useful and that as we grow we need to separate out the nuances of it and learn to tell the difference between when it’s healthy to want to please and when it’s unhealthy. So it can be healthy to want to please your parents or your spouse or God when it’s in the right context and there’s space for having your own identity and being imperfect but still lovable. And it can be unhealthy to want to please when you’re being asked to do things that are not in your best interest and maybe even some things that go against your self-care, maybe even dangerous to you. You know we teach this to our kids as having the power to speak up for themselves. It’s okay to say no to drugs, to strangers, even adults that ask you to get into their car, to Aunt Betsy if she wants to give you a big fat kiss and you don’t want it. 



We teach our teenagers to learn to say no to peers, maybe if they want to cheat off their papers, or pressured into sex or controlled by a boyfriend or girlfriend as far as who they might be able to talk to or not talk to. In other words, we’re trying to teach our children to learn to feel confident when they need to say no and when they need to possibly disappoint someone. So there’s really a continuum of when it’s healthy to please and when it’s unhealthy to please, and it makes sense that we don’t want to disappoint someone and when it makes sense that we do. No wonder we get a little confused by it all. This is often the groundwork for understanding healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships, and if you’ve come from a family that had to please everyone all the time, this may be harder, because it’s hard to know when you can and should say no and why and how to say it. So when I say that you have to learn to disappoint others and be okay, I’m really talking about sorting through all of this desire to please and landing on a sense of confidence in making decisions that really serve you. 



I think there are two kinds of reasons we avoid disappointing people. One is based in following our values, because we want to stay on track and follow the things we care most about, and the other is based in fear, because we worry about losing other people’s approval if we say no. So the first reason to please really links to our deeper purpose in life, where we’re following our values, and our values should be our guide. Values like honoring and respecting those we love, keeping our commitments, serving and caring for others, feeling close and connected, showing up for the things we believe in and not wanting others have to work harder or feel unsupported, like kind of a fairness. All of these things are quite internally connected to the things you care about. The disappointment we feel when we don’t follow our values is actually part of our internal compass. It’s like an alert system that lets us know that we’re veering off track, away from something that we care about. So I may want to avoid disappointing my child who I told I’d be at their band concert. I’ll work hard to be there. That’s motivating to me. The same was showing up to work on time, wanting to keep my commitment to a friend to help with their party, or helping somebody move, or watch their kids, or donate to the high school choir program. 



Sometimes these values are what cause us to say yes to things that we really care about, because we don’t want to disappoint or kind of let down those values. It’s a noble desire to show up and do all the things that really matter to us, but just because we care about these things doesn’t mean it’s easy to make decisions about them. We can feel a pressure and it can be hard to make these choices. When you care about a lot of things, it’s tempting to want to act on all of them, say yes to every good thing, and a lot of the time we can’t possibly say yes to all the good things we want to do. So we have to choose. We have to make decisions about where we’ll spend our time and prioritize what needs our attention the most right now and trust that maybe later, in another season, we’ll have more time or different circumstances that will allow us to do some of the other things we can’t do right now, and this will feel disappointing, maybe disappointing to us and maybe disappointing someone else. So when we say yes to one thing, it usually means we say no to something else, and not only is that okay, it’s absolutely necessary, because if you try to say yes to everything and disappoint no one, you will probably hit the wall, just like I did. It’s not sustainable. So it helps to recognize that you’re making hard choices and you’re not doing anything wrong when you have to disappoint someone or even feel disappointed yourself. 



Now there’s some other reasons why we avoid disappointing people, and that’s more fear-based. We often want people’s approval so we fear their disapproval. We feel like we need to earn respect or love by doing more kind of overperforming. Maybe we want to avoid conflict or we don’t want to be judged or appear to be something that we don’t want to be seen as like irresponsible or lazy or just not engaged. I think this is probably more of what our listeners question is about the yucky feeling we get when we have to say no to someone and we feel that fear of losing their approval or, even worse, maybe being judged by them. I know there are times when we get pushback and even guilt trips from people when we say no. 



I literally practice with women a script they can say to their mother-in-laws, their friends, sometimes even to their children, who they know from experience are going to respond with some guilt or some shaming if they say no to them. Or if it’s your kids you’re saying no to, maybe telling them no is going to trigger a tantrum. All of this can come when other people are disappointed, and if we give in to that because we fear it, that’s when we get out of balance and start feeling controlled and resentful. Sometimes we avoid disappointing others because we’re still struggling with feeling good enough, lovable enough, and pleasing others feels like proof we’re good enough, even when you know who you are and you feel great about your lovability. It just feels so good to have others approval, doesn’t it? As I look at these two kinds of reasons that I avoid disappointing people, I think I have a good mix of both, and my guess is, at least once in a while you might too. All of these reasons literally just mean you have a sensitivity to others and your relationships with them. 



But if these tendencies become too dominant in our lives, too extreme, we run the risk of over committing ourselves and increasing our stress, letting others down when we can’t deliver, creating relationships in which we aren’t telling the truth, increasing our resentment and often enabling others to believe they can’t handle being disappointed. So we really need to learn to trust ourselves more in our ability to listen to what we need and make authentic decisions about where we put our time and resources, learning to balance our responsibility to others with our responsibility to ourselves. This is being good to ourselves and good to others, because it’s real, it’s honest and it’s building closeness rather than resentment. So it’s going to happen that you disappoint someone, but that doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong. It may mean you are actually doing something right. 



I don’t know about you, but often the person that I disappoint the most is me, and that really has to change because, at the end of the day, you are the only one who can control your own feelings, your own destiny. So if we’re not even on the list of people we’re trying to please, then we’ve got a problem, and I think we could go to the extreme and be the only person that we consider pleasing, and that turns out to be kind of a narcissistic approach to life. So I’m not suggesting that there be one name on the list of who you set out to prioritize meeting, your time and your attention, and the only person on that list is you. Of course, you’re going to have other people on there and you’re going to have all of those values that you want to try your best to live up to. But we want to make sure that you, your health, your dreams, your desires are also on that list, because ultimately, you are the one that controls how well you take care of you and when we don’t do this. 



If we see our role as being the one that always takes care of everyone else at all costs and we’re working really hard to not disappoint anyone, I guarantee you, close behind that is going to be that feeling of resentment, because anytime you have to be responsible for another person’s happiness, especially at the expense of your own, you’re going to get feelings of anger or sadness that this isn’t right and it’s going to be that feeling of being resentful. And you can go back to episode number 12, where we talk about dealing with resentment, for a refresher on this. But basically, resentment is an indicator light that you need something and you’re not getting it, and oftentimes it means that you’re doing things you don’t really want to do. That you’re perhaps for a reason that’s important to you. You’re doing it but deep down inside it’s something you haven’t agreed to do on the inside, like you can agree to do it on the outside, but not totally be on board on the inside. 



In a situation like that, who are you disappointing? Well, resentment is telling you that you’re disappointing yourself, and the reason why we get in that situation is we often tell ourselves I can’t disappoint someone else. Hence the reason why we really need to learn to be able to tolerate that feeling of disappointing other people. So let’s talk a little bit about what it means to you if you disappoint someone. Most of us have these unspoken roles that we either were explicitly taught by our family, maybe modeled by our parents, or that we just picked up along the way that says I’m not allowed to disappoint someone, and if I do, it means something about me. And I want you to think for a minute what that story might be in your head. If you were to disappoint someone, what would it mean about you? That you’re selfish, that you’re a witch, that you don’t care, that you’re not worthy or that you’re not valuable? It can be helpful to look a little closer to identify some of our own motivations, that we feel behind this drive to please other people, so we can start to feel more comfortable when we have to make the kinds of decisions that make air quote people feel this way. 



Hopefully you caught what I said in air quotes we don’t ever make anybody feel a certain way. They get to choose, whether they realize it or not. They’re choosing how they’re going to feel based upon how they are thinking about it. So if you get asked to be in charge of your child’s third grade spring party and you don’t want to disappoint the teacher, you might feel tempted to say yes because you’re afraid you’re going to make the teacher feel sad or feel disappointed in you. And what I want you to remember is that you don’t have the power to make anybody feel anything. If they feel disappointed, it’s because they think you should have said yes. Now think about what that looks like If you’re saying yes to things that other people decide you need to say yes to. This is exactly the reason we get resentful. Who is in charge of your life? Because it certainly isn’t you, not in that moment when you’re doing something that you think someone else needs you to do, for them to be okay and for you to be okay, that’s the core setup of feeling the pressure to please. So I think it’s really helpful when we start to look at why do I feel this incessant need, or this burning need to keep people happy with me and to avoid them being disappointed? 



I’ve had to do my work around this. As a little girl I kind of felt like that was my job. I don’t think my mom and dad taught me that. I just grew up wanting to please everyone around me. It brought me a lot of approval and I think it was the basis for my self-esteem. The problem for me came when I hit the wall, because the truth is I couldn’t keep pleasing everybody that I came in contact with, even though I really wanted to. 



It’s not a mean-spirited decision to decide that you have to start to prioritize where you’re gonna put your time and energy. It’s actually a survival decision and we really want to disconnect it from our feelings of value and worthiness and loveability. And that was hard for me because that was kind of part of my identity. I was that good girl that always showed up, that always said yes, that you could count on, and if I had to say no sometimes, what did that mean about me, about who I was? I think I’m still learning to do that because I still struggle. I still have a little challenge when I want to say yes to something, but I know it’s not in my best interest to do so and that sometimes it even takes away from how I care for my children or the time I spend with my husband if I say yes too much to avoid disapproval or disappointment. 



And this can happen with our children too. Where we want to say yes to them, we want to give them the things they’re asking for because we don’t want them to be disappointed, and in a way, this is a recipe for really handicapping our children, so they don’t know how to deal with disappointment. It can also make us feel resentful about being a parent where we resent our children. And how do we avoid this? I think it starts with how we think about it. 



I’m trying to reframe the idea of disappointment and make it an okay thing to have happen, because it’s normal, so that you can expect it. It doesn’t hold all the power we think it does. It doesn’t mean that we have to get used to hurting people or destroying their happiness, or that we have to get used to others thinking poorly of us. This is that fear-based thinking that keeps us pleasing all the time. What we’re really doing is practicing owning our own choices and being unwilling to own the emotions of other people, and this means that when you answer a question, when you respond to a request, you’re going to be honest and accountable and take care of yourself, and sometimes that’s going to be at odds with what someone else wants you to do. I want you to practice being able to do that and still hold on to the concept that there is nothing wrong with you, that it’s actually not just your right but your responsibility to be accountable, to be really honest in how you answer and recognize there’s no way you’re going to be able to please everyone around you and that that’s not your job. You can’t control the thinking that another person has about this and the story they tell about it. As hard as you try, you’re never going to be able to control it and you shouldn’t be able to control it. 



So a lot of this has to do with holding your own space, having your own back, and the way that you communicate this to people can be done in a very calm and loving way, and that’s really where you’re holding on to the relationship. It’s not in giving everybody what you think they want from you. It’s in how you treat them when you do have to say no and how you show up for them in your relationship. Maybe in the long run in the future, you know, if having a relationship with someone means you have to do everything they ask all the time and be responsible for them feeling good about you, then what kind of relationship is that really? In a way, isn’t that more like being held hostage? It can make it harder for us to feel safe and close in our relationships when that’s happening. So we’re actually protecting our relationships. We’re actually encouraging health in our relationships when we’re honest, when we’re authentic, when we show up and represent ourselves with trust in ourselves that we can firmly, kindly but firmly say no, even when it disappoints someone. 



You may be very worried about what the other person is thinking, and what I want you to be focused on is what you are thinking, the story you have in your mind, how you are processing this decision and what it means about you, because, remember, someone else’s disappointment in you can’t hurt you, it can’t make you feel anyway, unless you buy into the story, and most of the time I really don’t think people are greatly disappointed in us when we say no or when we don’t do what they want. Of course there might be a few people that have a tantrum here or there. They’ve got the assumption that you have to do everything that they say. But that’s really good to disappoint someone that’s doing that right, because the boundaries are all off in a situation like that. That can even become abusive, so we don’t want that. Most people can handle you saying no. I think it’s us that usually worry the most about it. What we want is for you to have healthy relationships, for people to be able to ask you to do things and for you to honestly be able to respond. 



I was working with a woman the other day who was always watching her friends’ kids. Not just one friend, but a couple of her friends would call her often when they had an appointment or a lunch date that call her, and she would always say yes. Some of the time she didn’t mind. It was a great time for her kids to have a play date with their friends and she loved being helpful. But she was so good at saying yes every time and so good at pretending it didn’t bother her that she got asked more than she really wanted to babysit and she was so afraid to say no and risked disappointing her friends. So she kept doing it and her resentment kept growing. And when I talked with her she was kind of mad at these women. She felt used and the very thing she’d been worried about having something hurt their relationship. Well, that was happening because she felt taken advantage of and I don’t even think her friends knew it. It was really hard for her to tell them no. 



But after we talked about it and after she could see that it was her fear of not having their approval that was keeping her from being truthful with them, she was able to decide to approach it another way. Rather than blow it all up and tell them never again would she watch their kids, she decided to really check in with herself each and every time she was asked and see how she felt about committing to babysit. If she felt okay and it worked with her schedule, she would say yes Because it matched her values of serving and supporting a friend and it meant a fun play date for her kids. And if she really felt tired or was busy or just wanted a more quiet day, she would tell them no Because she valued herself and her relationship with these friends needed her to be truthful. We practiced ways. She could say it I’d love to, but I’m swamped this week. And then no apologies, no excuses. She didn’t have to tell them exactly why she was swamped. By the way, she’d been making excuses instead of telling her friends directly that she didn’t want to babysit, and then her friends had been coming up with solutions so that she could actually watch their kids, and so that kind of backfired on her and made her even more resentful. So we practiced just saying no straight up I’m so sorry I can’t do it this day and the response from her friends was interesting. One friend just smiled and said, oh, no problem. Another friend did look pretty disappointed and she asked questions, kind of looking for the reasons why she’d said no to her, and this was really hard because it tested her resolve to hold her boundary. 



When you do this, you may have someone really double down on the pressure to get you to say yes. I can remember finally giving in to a teacher who asked me three different times to be the room mom. I couldn’t hold up my no, I caved, and that’s going to happen sometimes. But at least then I could see it. I gave in and I did what she wanted me to do instead of what I wanted to do. So my shift at that point was to own my decision, to realize that somewhere I felt some drive to say yes. It was probably more than just pleasing the teacher and that’s what I connected to, and I tried to show up without resentment and just really enjoy what I had agreed to do, and I’m getting better at that now. I still fall into that trap once in a while, and you might too, but if you’re aware of it and you’re practicing it, you’ll feel so much better about your ability to say yes and to say no and not feel guilty about it. 



I worked with another woman who always wanted to be in the arts and she had parents who were both physicians very science-based careers and they were just not open to the idea of her pursuing the arts. She went into medical school to study to be a doctor because she didn’t want to disappoint her parents. When she came to me she was really struggling with some depression and some anxiety and just a sense of frustration that she was doing something that she just didn’t have her heart set on. So let’s look at that. Of course she loved her parents. She wanted to honor her parents. She wanted them to be proud of her, but the persona she was trying to be to please them wasn’t the persona she wanted. It didn’t reflect who she really was, and so even when she thought that her parents were proud of her, she felt like it was hollow, like it was empty and that she got their approval of a pretend persona she was living. So she avoided their disappointment, but it didn’t feel authentic for her. Their approval of her was not for her authentic self. So she and I had to work with her being authentic within herself. 



Either she needed to embrace the goal to be a doctor and just love it and do it for her, or let that go and change her trajectory and go in a different direction that felt good to her, more authentic to her. So as she looked at the desires she had to please her parents and live up to their expectations, she found that she had really done a lot of that, that she’d become this strong, kind, honest person that they’d taught her to be, and she was able to see that she’d honored her parents as a child, growing up, listening and following them. But she had also reached a point in her life where, as an adult, she had to make independent decisions that she felt good about. So she ultimately decided to change her career plans and tell her parents she was not going to finish medical school. She had to learn to be comfortable with the idea of her parents possibly being disappointed in her as a first step, but it helped her to know that she was making the decision for herself. 



She was the one that had to do the work. She was the one that had to live with the results of whatever her career choice was. Her parents had actually raised her to be strong enough to do that, so that helped her see that she was grateful for them and their influence. She was not being ungrateful. She had all of her priorities right and she could feel confident. And this was how she told them. She told them she struggled, that she’d been worried about disappointing them and that she loved them so much she was so tempted to do exactly what they wanted, even when it wasn’t what she wanted. But then she said that she changed her mind and that she was not completing her medical school plan and that she knew they would be disappointed and she hoped they would understand. 



And I think the most beautiful part of this story is that, though they were disappointed at first meaning they had the story in their own mind that she was doing the wrong thing based upon their idea of what she should do but over time, as they saw she was owning her choices and that she still loved them and she was still taking care of her life they came to understand that she needed to make these decisions for herself, that they found a way to let go of their preconceived ideas of what she needed to do and they became really quite supportive of her. Here’s the bottom line. Those parents are allowed to be disappointed. They’re allowed to think about this in any way they want, and she’s allowed to think about it in the way that serves her best. Ultimately, she has to live with herself and her own story and her own actions. She had this really scary story in her mind that if she didn’t do what her parents wanted her to do, that their disappointment would be so great in her she wouldn’t be able to live with it, and that was really the biggest part of the work she had to do. It was to be able to recognize she was in control of that narrative, not anyone else, and that’s what we have to do, that we’re in control of what we’re believing and thinking and we make these decisions and we don’t give our power over to someone else. Even if we really desire to please them and we’re worried they might be disappointed, that disappointment really doesn’t have power to harm us if we don’t let it. 



When you say what you really think and I don’t mean blurred out, unkind thoughts, but when you stand up and speak for what you really feel, how you really feel about things, you’re being authentic. You’re setting a precedent in the relationship that you’re going to tell the truth and that the person that’s asking you can trust your answer. You know I had this the other day when one of my kids called and said mom, can you watch the kids? And we have a deal that if I can’t watch the kids, whether it’s for a night or a weekend, I tell them. Or if I don’t want to watch the kids, if I’m busy, or if I’d like to go to dinner with my husband or with some friends, I say I’m so sorry that’s not gonna work for me tonight. If I said yes, even when I didn’t want to, it would erode the trust in our relationship. I would feel resentful and they’d be hesitant to ask me because they wouldn’t know whether I’d actually tell them the truth. 



So the more that we speak honestly what we feel is the best thing for us, the more others can count on us being authentic. This is what I’ve learned over the years you can please others with integrity, with compassion and with love, and you can disappoint others with integrity, with compassion and with love. The important thing is that you are connected to your integrity, that you feel your compassion and that you’re motivated by love for yourself and then for others. And when you’re focused on this, you’ll be able to make these kinds of decisions in a peaceful and confident way, because it’s the best thing for everyone. When you have to say no to someone, you can do it in a way that shows your care and your compassion and your love for them. I would love to do this because I love you, but I can’t do it, or I don’t want to do it, and I know this is very disappointing and I’m sad about that because I hate to see you disappointed. And then you don’t negotiate, no waffling around, no reconsidering when they look sad, because sometimes, when we see someone’s disappointment, we backpedal and I just want you to know that’s going to be part of what you need to practice. You’re gonna feel that tendency or that desire to back away from that disappointment, because everyone doesn’t always say, oh okay, no problem, you’re gonna have to kind of tolerate disappointment and not backpedal on it. 



I think this happens most with our kids. Our kids ask us to do something and when we say no, it begins Mom, why not? You said. Maybe there are tears, sadness, mad faces, and then you think I don’t want to disappoint you and we feel the pressure to give in. It’s okay that our children are disappointed sometimes and that’s a phrase that you can say. I know you’re really disappointed. You really wanted brownies tonight and I just am not up for making them. And then you can use that integrity, compassion and love. You can give them a hug and say maybe that’s something we can plan later in the week. Or please ask me again. 



This takes practice. You guys practice staying loving to yourself and loving to others and being honest and not pleasing to the extent that we lose ourselves. And, of course, sometimes you’ll do things you don’t really want to do because it feels right to you, right. It’s being motivated by something that’s value-based, something you care about. That’s when you want to notice that it is something you want to do, that you don’t want to disappoint yourself, you don’t want to disappoint that value that you hold. So then you want to get aligned and get in agreement inside because you’re choosing to do it, and I hope that you’re all choosing to do a lot of things that are hard, that require inner strength and sacrifice. We’re not looking to get out of doing hard things. Hard things are what makes our life rich and full of the most important things we care about. We just want you to have buy-in to do it because you are choosing to do it, because it’s not a healthy relationship when you’re not represented in the relationship, because you’re over concerned with someone being disappointed in you. So here’s to agree and saying yes when it’s the right thing for us to do and when it’s not learning to say no and disappointing people in a kind, loving and firm way. Thank you so much for this tender question. I hope I answered it in a way that you can feel good about and give it a try and, as always, I’m grateful to have the chance to spend time with you guys today. Take care and I’ll see you next week. 



The Leadership Parenting Podcast is for general information purposes only. It is not therapy and should not take the place of meeting with a qualified mental health professional. The information on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, illness or disease. It’s also not intended to be legal medical or therapeutic advice. Please consult your doctor or mental health professional for your individual circumstances. Thanks again and take care.

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