How To Say ‘No’ With Style – Or, How To Ditch People-Pleasing Forever

A major stumbling block for women, especially women looking to lose weight, is the inability to say “no” without feeling very, very guilty.

For many of us, saying “no” triggers our deepest fear:

“Uh-oh, I’m not a nice person and other people will know I’m not nice.”

I’ve been there. Heck, I used to live there.

How about you, sweetheart?

We women are especially vulnerable to this erroneous thinking, caused by excessive (and unnecessary) concern for what other good folk think of us.

(Dear reader, you understand this principle is so much broader than ‘saying no to food’. This principle has butt-kicking power in every corner of your life).

Let’s do a quick check-in, shall we?

– Do you find yourself not wanting to confront, challenge or upset those around you?

– Are you always the peace keeper in your family or office?

-Do you constantly feel stretched by the demands of others?

…And yet, inexplicably, still can’t say “no”?

OK, now specifically around food…

Do you find yourself eating (even when you’re not hungry), just to keep your partner, parent or host happy?

It’s Not Your Fault

Many of us women are conditioned from birth to believe it’s feminine, motherly and somehow more attractive to put other people’s needs first.

And, if we don’t, then we’re being selfish.

Here’s the truth. The painful but ultimately very freeing truth, darlin’.

Behind every people-pleasing exterior stews resentment, frustration and fear.

People-pleasers take this stew, allow it to marinade, and direct it in on themselves.

It’s a recipe for a stressful existence.

Even though they might feel “a bit peeved” at the person to whom they said yes, when they meant no (again), really, it is annoyance at their own lack of voice, they’re frustrated with.

And, hello…

… you wonder why you’ve developed behaviours to numb this frustration and stress. Behaviours like overeating, for example.

Just Say No

Your happy-weight sisters are comfortable with saying “nope, not today thanks”. Whether it’s around food or other areas of their life.

They don’t eat just because someone wants them to. Sure, they go to parties, BBQs and eat out, yet they remain their happy weight because they are willing to say “non, merci” when their body isn’t in need of food.

They listen to their own voice, rather than allowing someone else to dictate your life.

The great news is learning to say no is a learned skill. Even if it’s been a challenge for you until now, you can quit being a people-pleaser, right now, with a little practice.

Your shrinking waist line, reduced stress levels and increased confidence will thank you for it.

Five Steps To Giving Good “No”

1. Pause

Next time you’re tempted by the easy path and the words “OK, yeah, right-o” are forming on your lips, while every fibre of you is screaming, “heck no”…. P.A.U.S.E.

Pause and breathe.

And remember you have every right to say no. It’s your basic human right.

Next…say the two-lettered word.

2. Just Say It.


It’s a complete sentence. Really, it is.

Say it with a calm, self-honouring smile.

A prettier alternative is, “No thanks, but thank you for asking, I really appreciate it”.

3. Ditch The Explanation

Many of us feel the need to give reasons for our decision, something akin to the homework excuse from school.

“Really sir, the dog ate it.”

You’re a big girl now. Instead, come from a space of nothing to defend, nothing to justify.

Sure you could explain if you think it’ll be helpful, but there’s no obligation. And sometimes it’s unhelpful.

Think about it. The other person is looking at the conversation with a completely different perspective and they may be disappointed.

And that’s okay, they’ll deal with it.

4. Start Small

First start saying “no way, José” to small things. You’ll build your confidence and gather positive reference points as you go.

Remember by saying no to someone else you are saying yes to your own voice. Your own healthy, sparkly self.

5. “Uh-oh…I accidentally said yes”

Or “I said yes but I’ve changed my mind.”

Relax. It happens.

You always have the opportunity to change your mind. What’s the point in having one unless you change it from time to time?

You’ll Create More Space In Your Life

Once you start saying no with ease you’ll wonder how you survived without it.

And that’s the thing really, isn’t it?

If you can’t say ‘no’ you’re so busy doing stuff you don’t really want to do that ‘surviving’ is an apt description of your life.

Who wants to survive? Wouldn’t you rather thrive? There’s a big difference.

By saying no, you’ll be doing less of what you don’t want, which leaves more time for what you DO want. Bring on the thriving… yeah, bay bee!

With practice you’ll easily get to the stage where your first answer is your genuine, heartfelt desire. It’ll become automatic.

Initially your voice may shake around the unfamiliar two-letter syllable. Let it.

Notice how liberating it feels to speak your truth.

Notice too, how people start to treat you with more respect as you treat yourself with more respect.

And watch as your decisions are reflected in the decreasing number on your scales.

So, YOU, classy chica – how do you say no. What works for you? What hasn’t worked in the past? Share and inspire, and add to the mix in the comments section below.

Love etc, Avril