Know When To Say “No”

Know When To Say “No.” Saying “no” to people or situations that are not healthy means you are not looking out for your well-being.  In Couples Counseling I work with people who are not able to say what they really want to say to their partners to avoid conflict, hurting the other person’s feelings, repercussions, or whatever fear they may have about their relationship.

If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, you may not be in a healthy relationship.  Being able to initiate conversation, express thoughts and feelings, and ask for what you need and want is what a healthy relationship looks like.

Say goodbye to being a people pleaser and learn how to confidently say no to someone without feeling bad about it.  It has a lot to do with being assertive.

Tips for Saying No Effectively:

Takers – Say “yes” to givers. Be a giver yourself.  “Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.”—

Say no to takers:

  • Recognize who’s a taker (they always ask or even demand things).
  • Set ground rules and confront them (in a nice way).
  • Stop giving to them until their behavior/mindset changes.
  • Spend more time with givers like yourself.

1. Say it.

Don’t beat around the bush or offer weak excuses or hem and haw. This only provides an opening for the other person. Don’t delay or stall either. Provide a brief explanation if you feel you need to; however, don’t feel compelled. The less said the better.

2. Be assertive and courteous.

You might say, “I’m sorry I can’t right now but will let you know when and if I can.” This approach is polite, and puts you in a position of power by changing the dynamic. You’re taking charge, telling people you’ll let them know when and if you can. Another example, “I appreciate your asking me for help, but I’m stretched too thin right now to devote the time to be of quality help to you.”

3. Understand peoples’ tactics.

Many people and organizations use manipulation techniques, whether knowingly or not. For example, think about when you get a solicitation for a donation to a charity and there are forced options: “Would you like to donate $10, $20, $30, or X amount?” Another tactic: “Most people donate $20–how much would you like to donate?” This relies on social pressure.

4. Set boundaries.

People sometimes have a hard time saying no because they haven’t taken the time to evaluate their relationships and understand their role within the relationship. When you truly understand the dynamic and your role, you won’t feel as worried about the consequences of saying no. You’ll realize that your relationship is solid and can withstand your saying no.

5. Put the question back on the person asking.

This is highly effective in a work situation. Let’s say a supervisor is asking you to take on several tasks–more than you can handle. You might say, “I’m happy to do X, Y, and Z; however, I would need three weeks, rather than two, to do a good job. How would you like me to prioritize them?”

6. Be firm.

If someone can’t accept your no, then you know the person is probably not a true friend or doesn’t respect you. Stand firm, and don’t feel compelled to give in just because that person is uncomfortable.

7. Be selfish (in a good way)

Put your needs first. Not those of the person asking you for something. If you prioritize that person’s needs over yours, you’ll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount. Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”

Make time for people that don’t bring you down. Stay away from toxic people.  “It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around when you remove toxic people from your life.” — Robert Tew

How to say no to toxic people:

  • Spend more time with people who share your values.
  • Be truthful and let someone know you’re ready to move on.
  • Find a mentor who’ll help you remove yourself from toxic people.
  • Join online groups of like-minded individuals.

As a young woman, I had a difficult time saying “no.”  I wanted everyone to like me and not to think poorly of me.  In the long run I became a resentful and angry person. This lack of assertiveness and conflict avoidance made my parenting of my older children challenging as I never wanted to disappoint them.  As it turns out they appreciate my forthcoming assertiveness in saying what I need to say.  And that sometimes can be “no.”

To learn how to be more assertive and say “no” without feeling negative thoughts about yourself call me at (858) 735-1139.




Women Maintain Your Sense Of Self

Women Maintain Your Sense Of Self.  As little girls, we are socialized to be the “good little girl” in that we’re supposed to follow what our parents and this Patriarchy society tell us to do. This is what I heard while growing up in my family.  “You could be anything you want to be when you grow up,” “You are just as good as anyone else.”  As a licensed Marriage Counselor and Family Therapist, I know we have our own stories that we take with us into adulthood.  I help individuals understand their stories about their upbringing and how it affects their relationships.  Women, in particular, come in with symptoms of depression and anxiety as they seem to have happy lives, yet are not happy.  Some of these stories include what was once The American Dream where women are “stay at home moms” (SAHM) working in the home while husbands work outside the home bringing in the main source of income. While this may appear ideal the majority of women I treat state it really is not.

Women taking of their sense of self

I work with many women who come into counseling losing their Sense of Self because they live that same dream.  I’m not judging or criticizing “stay at home moms.”  They are great at what they do.  I just don’t think it pays off that well financially, emotionally or psychologically.  I don’t think it ever did.  When push comes to shove having your own financial resources is empowering.  I have come to the conclusion that women who go to college should utilize what they studied and make some kind of financial contribution to the household. Especially those who have received higher education and post-graduate degrees.  Why in heavens name invest time and money in becoming a doctor, lawyer, scientist, etc., only to become financially dependent on your husband?  Under ideal circumstances, we trust our husbands will always be there for us and never betray us with any kind of infidelity, including financial infidelity.  But life isn’t ideal now, is it?!

As a Marriage Counselor, I have seen too many women dependent on their husbands and have regretted it in looking at the big picture.  As the Honeymoon Stage ends we all continue to survive the Conflict Resolution Stage, where life gets challenging and isn’t always nice.  Having your own financial resources keeps things in perspective.  If you are in an abusive relationship having the resources needed to leave can be freeing.  Being Co-dependent in a relationship where you don’t have access to your own money can be scary and gives you a feeling of helplessness.

Money isn’t the only thing that is important.  Having a support system where you have friends and people you trust keeps you more objective to know what kind of reality you are living. Hobbies and your own personal activities keep you differentiated from your partner and the rest of the family so you foster the “Individual” within the wife, mother, sister, professional, caretaker, etc. and keeps you interesting.  When you have a Sense of Self you not only have your husband’s respect you have yours.

As a Couples Counselor, I work with women who have Ph.Ds, Law Degrees, and Medical Degrees. I see entrepreneurs making over a million dollars a year and tolerate infidelity, verbal abuse, and even domestic violence. Why do these women stay in these relationships?

 I help these women understand they have lost their sense of self by allowing their partners to “disempower” them.  I also help them understand they have come to “disempower themselves” by their tolerance of the maltreatment.  “You teach people how to behave around you.”  When you continue to sit there and take verbal abuse, you allow your perpetrator to talk to you like that.  He, in turn, learns he can continue to yell obscenities at you as you continue to take it.  I have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be a perpetrator of verbal abuse to a partner who possessed a law degree, was a CPA, Real Estate Broker, and entrepreneur.  My first husband tolerated years of verbal abuse from me as I was an angry person.  By his lack of assertiveness, he reinforced my bad behavior toward him until he finally left me one day.  I believe an angry abusive person can change if they choose to change.  I also know if they choose not to change they will not change.  You, however, have to decide what kind of life you want to live.

Whatever your payoff is in staying in a bad situation I hope it makes sense to you.  If not please contact me to get some perspective at (858) 735-1139.






Assert Yourself

Assert Yourself.  Have you ever heard yourself say, “I’m a nice person? I’m a polite person. I’d never intentionally do anything to hurt anybody. So why don’t people give me the respect I deserve?” The problem could well be due to your lack of assertiveness. Maybe you aren’t showing your nice, polite, and respectful qualities to other people. Unless they can see who you truly are, underneath it all, other people might not know how you expect to be treated. And this can lead to some unhappy experiences. At the heart of assertiveness is your ability to know who you are and what you stand for – and then to express these qualities effectively in everyday interactions with other people.

Expressing yourself effectively involves maintaining respect for the rights and feelings of others. Assertiveness is not aggression. People who are assertive know that they can deal with the world much more effectively if they do not resort to violence or other aggressive responses. In many ways, assertiveness is the exact opposite of aggression – assertion enhances constructive communication and cooperation between people, while aggression shuts it down. Assertiveness is not manipulation. Most people are aware, at some level, when they are being manipulated – it can lead to distrust and a lack of respect, for both parties. Manipulation involves hiding behind a mask. Assertiveness means tearing off the mask and happily announcing to the world who you truly are. Assertiveness is reality-tested freedom. At the heart of assertiveness is your ability to know who you are and what you stand for. Expressing yourself effectively involves maintaining respect for the rights and feelings of others.

We see instances of nonassertive behavior around us everyday. Most people who lack an assertive style are simply those who want to keep the peace. For the most part, they want goodness and cooperation between people. However, they often pay a high price for this in terms of functioning effectively in the world.

There are many negative consequences associated with the nonassertive style. For example, those who are not assertive allow their feelings and boundaries to be violated by others. They believe that they do not have the right to their own feelings, beliefs or opinions – and even if they do, they have difficulty expressing them in a self-affirming way. They may feel that asserting their thoughts will lead to rejection or even being attacked. They frequently feel that it is better to withhold their ideas rather than cause a conflict. Nonassertive individuals may feel guilty when they have to say “No.” They often allow others to make decisions for them and may assume that others will care for their needs. They may place the needs of others above their own. Nonassertive people are easily victimized by others.

The consequences of choosing to be nonassertive are costly. People feel hurt and mistreated when their needs are not met – yet those who are nonassertive do little to meet these needs themselves. They may store up negative feelings and then harbor anger. Their sense of efficacy in the world is diminished, and then they complain about how unfair the world is to them. This approach toward the world may lead to depression, poor self-esteem, anxiety, isolation, and anger. There are better alternatives.