boy red hat say no mindfully

The pressure to be kind all the time

“Since I started zazen meditation, I had difficulties to say no. How to say no mindfully?” – One of my friends said in a sharing session. And he is not the only one.

When we practice mindfulness, we seem to be filled with this loving energy. We want the whole world, together with us, to deliver love and compassion. We might wrongly set to ourselves the pressure to be “kind” all the time! Are we contradictory to our loving-kindness when we get angry, shout, refuse to help? How to deal with it?

Why do we say “yes”

Saying yes to things we know we either don’t want to or are unable to do? You got it. It’s called “hedging“. You use phrases like “I don’t know,” “maybe,” and “we’ll see”. You say this, when really your answer is, unequivocally, no”, explained Jae Ellard in his article.

I’m sure you’ve already been in this situation. Invited to a barbecue, you know you are not able to do it, or unwanted to do it. Though you will say: “Well, perhaps, we’ll see”, under the insistent look of our friends or family.

This is probably more so when we practice loving-kindness. Our children are taught love and compassion. We find ourselves loving parents. Our value is calm and peace of mind.

And there are times that our beloved ones look at us with expectations. They really need us. At that moment, we are completely exhausted. But we feel it difficult to send them away and simply say “no”.

Similarly, at work, we accept to be under the pressure and the power of others. Because we think we’ll gain respect or appreciation for our service.

Should we always say “yes” on whatever others want? Well, the short answer is “No”. Loving someone does not means saying “yes” to all he or she desires. Learn why true mindfulness helps you say “no”

Mindfulness helps you say “NO”

“The foundation of your love for another person is the intimacy with yourself and your own needs”

Thich Nhat Hanh

On the contrary to common belief, successful mindful practices help you say “No” more firmly. It is rather than appearing to be “kind” all the time.

Here are the 3 reasons why.

  • Mindful of who we are, and what we do, we care and love ourselves. We have self-compassion and allow ourselves to rest if we need it. So we can say “no”.
  • Mindful, we have more thoughtful reflection and true conversations with others. We give everybody the space to be heard through deep listening. But we are equally able to explain how we feel. We express truly and mindfully our thoughts.
  • Mindful, our mind is still and calm. We can say “No” in a loving way, without stress and resentment.

Consequently, we feel so good. Such in a way that finally, in the long term, we are healthy, loving, positive. We can then truly be there for our beloved ones.

Learn how to say “no” mindfully with my best tips.

How to say ‘no’ mindfully – 5 useful tips

Remind yourself of the value of “No”

Keep this in mind the power of “no”. This is the first permission you need to give yourself. “It can be scary to speak up for ourselves and say ‘no’. But it is necessary, and setting boundaries is healthy” (Boxofhapiness). Saying “no” when needed, is a sign of respect and love for yourself. And this will inspire the love and respect of others.

When my child insists that I leave my plate to help her find a piece of paper, I now learn to smile and say: “Dear, I’ll come, but firstly, I need to finish eating. Can you give me a few minutes dear?”.

Breathe and hold back a second before saying “yes”

Each time, under the insisting look of our requester, we can take a deep breath. We create the habit of holding back a second before saying “yes” (a “yes” we don’t want). And hold on to the truth of our feeling at the moment.

When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.  

Paulo Coehlo.

Remember that it’s possible to say no with joy

I remember the time when I was in a retreat with my children in Plum Village. We had a sharing as a Dharma family (mindful group) in a circle, chaired by a Plum Village’ brother (mindfulness teacher). We discussed this difficulty of saying “no” when we become “too kind”. Everybody seemed to struggle with the right answer.

In the group, there was a boy of 6-7 years old. He wanted all the time to ring the bell and started to disturb the discussion. At a certain moment, our teacher just told him “no”. He said that firmly, but with such a smile, joy, and kindness that I couldn’t forget.

Today, thinking about it, I know I got my answer. With mindful practice, we can have the ability to say ‘no’ simply, when needed, but with joy and love.

Train before the D-day

The best thing to do? Practice mindfulness when everything is going on well. So when the difficulty arises, the D-day when you need to say no, you can say it with calm and love.

With such a “no”, the person with whom we deal will feel this loving-kindness. With this “no”, we don’t create resentment, tension, or disappointment, of which we are so afraid.

Believe in others

Another way to train your capability to say “no” is the capacity to believe in others. Don’t think that you are a “saver”, and people will not make it without your help? Then you can say no. Most of the time, people manage well without you. This way, we avoid putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves. This is real empowerment, of yourself, and of others.

As conclusion

Practicing mindfulness, we see ourselves as loving and compassionate persons. Some of us find it difficult to say “no”. But there is a real value of the word “no”. Learn to practice saying “no” mindfully today. Starting firstly by giving yourself permission for your own love and respect. A good tip is to take a deep breath and hold back a second before saying an “unwanted yes”. Also, train your mindful practices to keep positive energy on a regular basis. So that when needed, we can say “no” with love and joy. And lastly, believe in others. This is real empowerment, of yourself, and of others.

Helpful? Read more:

How can I practice mindful self-compassion?

“Deep listening”: If you’ve never started, today is the day

Mindful or mindless – How to free my mind from this person I hate

7 ways mindfulness meditation improves your loneliness