Many people have a problem of succumbing to the demands of others repeatedly and are afraid of saying no. They feel that it may hurt the other person and provoke revenge. Or, they are afraid of themselves and their own reactions in a possible conflict.
On the other hand, saying yes to others seems to be ingrained in our nature as an effective evolutionary strategy. It allowed our ancestors to support each other and jointly defend themselves from various threats. Also, a genuine yes to people and circumstances generally is a good thing, which means accepting the present moment as it is.
However, agreeing with all external requests would have been the perfect strategy if all people were genuine and honest. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Often burdened with heavy negative emotions, many individuals may behave egotistically and even cunningly toward us. If we are always naively open to their demands, they will inevitably hurt us. I am sure you are familiar with that feeling, unfortunately. Many times, all of us were betrayed or hurt unexpectedly, even by our close friends or relatives. Our life experience tells us that we should always be alert and cautious to avoid such unpleasant surprises.
The problem is that we habitually say no out from fear or anger. Also, we say yes frequently from fear or desire. So, the root of our reactions, whether “positive” or “negative” ones, is at least very questionable.
The underlying source of our reactions is our ego. Typically, we don’t respond. We react. That’s a big difference.
Saying No and Saying Yes
Therefore, if we want to learn how to genuinely say no to other people’s demands, we should examine the complementary action – saying yes. Those are the two opposites that are inseparable. Acceptance and denial, submission and refusal, agreement and dissent, yes and no; they are two sides of the coin. They must be taken into consideration together.
Only from the state of Pure Consciousness, we can respond genuinely to every challenge. Pure Consciousness, or Presence, will truly enable us to either accept or refuse the requests of others. On the other hand, if we are burdened by thoughts and emotions, our choices will be clouded and distorted. The genuine decisions are made only from the state of Presence, the thoughtless state of mind.
However, even if we learn to live in the here and now, to be mindful most of the time, we still could react improperly in numerous circumstances. Some persons or occasions may easily kick us out from the state of Presence. Their actions or mere appearance could trigger our previously suppressed emotions such as anger, fear, or sorrow, so our reaction to their requirements will not be genuine. Whether that reaction is submission or refusal, it will not be authentic. In the long run, its consequences will be suffering.
The genuine decisions are made only from the state of Presence, the thoughtless state of mind.
On the other hand, as long as we remain in the state of Presence, here and now, we are responding to all external stimuli in the best possible way. Only if founded in Pure Consciousness, which is infinitely intelligent, all our actions will emerge spontaneously, timely and effectively.
How to Respond Genuinely in Every Situation
So, if we repeatedly succumb to someone instead of saying no, we should enter the state of presence before the problematic situation develops.
As the event unfolds, we should observe it from a state of pure Presence. When we feel the inception of our habitual reaction (say, fear) in this situation, we must maintain our Presence. If we manage to sustain inner peace and clarity of Pure Consciousness, we will spontaneously come out with the best possible response to that person or event. It can be silence, non-action, but it can also be a decisive refusal of that person's request, or some new, creative, quite unexpected action.
Whether our answer will be a refusal, submission, or something completely different, is less important. What is truly important is that our action will be authentic, derived from our True Being. This action will be perfect at the given moment.
When we feel the inception of our habitual reaction (say, fear) in this situation, we must maintain our Presence.
However, it is not always easy to maintain calmness. It's exactly these situations and the people we talk about here that cause our reactions, which are often uncontrollable and inadequate. Accordingly, it is necessary always to maintain inner peace.
In order to achieve that, we have to work on ourselves extensively. That work will root us firmly into love and presence and allow us to grow in all areas of life.
Therefore, if we want to always be able to respond authentically to all external actions, we should:
Now, let's take a closer look at each of these aspects of the inner work.
It is essential to learn how to live in the present moment consciously. We call that art mindfulness or presence. If we are present (mindful), we are consciously experiencing ourselves, our actions and surroundings, without redundant thoughts and distractions.
When we root ourselves in the present moment, we are capable of responding to every challenge impeccably. We can gradually develop a mindful way of living through the persistent use of all possible life situations for entering the present moment consciously.
If we are present (mindful), we are consciously experiencing ourselves, our actions and surroundings, without redundant thoughts and distractions.
Here is some important advice about mindfulness from the book Inner Peace, Outer Success:
“A great way to develop the practice of everyday mindfulness is to set up triggers for various situations or activities that you are usually engaged in during the day. These triggers should become habitual ‘launchers’ of mindfulness.
Generally, you should try to be aware of every motion of your body, sensation, texture, sound, taste, and smell. From time to time pause and direct attention to your sense of self. Sustain that state of self-awareness during every activity. You will enjoy every task, you will become light and, in a strange way, even transparent.”
You can also find a lot of useful guidance on this subject here.
Regular meditation sittings are very important, too. If we want to have stable and lasting results in our inner work, we must discipline ourselves and have at least one, 15-minute meditation session every day.
There are innumerable types of meditation, and almost all will bring you excellent results, if practiced regularly. Nevertheless, I would recommend the Reintegration System’s meditations, which are tailored to support all other practices listed here.
In order to really improve our abilities of immaculate responsiveness, we should remove many hidden triggers to overly emotional reactions. We have many approaches at our disposal for that purpose. One of them would be to forgive all people that may activate these negative reactions within us. Otherwise, our yes would only represent our avoidance of a conflict, while saying no could be the result of anger and inevitably produce some sort of struggle.
In this article, you can find many useful tips on forgiveness, what exactly it is and what are the best ways to forgive.
However, forgiveness is not the only solution. We must commit to extensive inner work nonetheless.
Healing the Corresponding Parts of Personality
In a way, the people around us mirror the countless elements of our inner being. As described in Inner Peace, Outer Success, every part of our personality has its own so-called chain of goals. The consequence of this fact is that the part’s behavior is unwittingly distorted, typically resulting in unpleasant and even painful experiences.
Our reactions to people, to their desires and fears, whether in the form of “yes” or “no,” in fact reflect our relationship to the goals of the corresponding aspects of our personality. Let us take an example.
If your close friend insists that you join them in an ethically questionable endeavor, your whole being will probably feel resistance. However, as you are somewhat dependent on their opinions, and you are currently trying to remedy your oscillating relationship, you don’t want to reject them. You say yes again. This habitual reaction will most certainly lead you to regrets.
In this example, your friend is a “projection” of several aspects of your personality. Their behavior corresponds to your deeply hidden part that we could call “an opportunist,” a trait that you normally despise. And that despising has been suppressing already existing opportunistic tendencies within yourself, which you had probably inherited from your parents.
As every suppressed element of our personality eventually must be expressed somehow, this trait emerged in your reality in the form of your friend’s dubious conduct.
Every suppressed element of our personality eventually must be expressed somehow.
Another typical cause of regretful situations is our victim identity. It is usually imprinted into our psyche during early childhood. It attracts corresponding circumstances, in which people act aggressively and maliciously toward us so that we can put ourselves into a victim position, time and again. We are unconsciously forced to be submissive to them by the victim part of our personality, so we are unable to say no. The result is recurring suffering.
The immediate solution to this problem is to put boundaries between us and them, to force ourselves to say no to their intentions.
Even if we are in the state of presence, we could easily be kicked out from it because of the strong energy of the inner part that generates repeatedly these situations in which we become a victim.
The only lasting solution is to recognize and transform the inner part. Consequently, we would be able to remain present here and now when the triggering situation occurs, and we would respond in the best possible way.
The only lasting solution is to recognize and transform the inner part that generates repeatedly these situations.
We can use the Reintegration techniques to transform numerous aspects of our psyche. Also, we have countless other spiritual or psychological methods and approaches to achieve that.
Or, we could strongly commit to spiritual work that will eventually bring about deep inner transformation. Many previously unintegrated parts of our personality will subtly and progressively be reunited with the rest of our being. The unwanted behaviors will become more and more rare, as the final spiritual liberation comes up. Related to our topic, we could call this “the indirect approach,” but, in truth, this is the most important and, ultimately, the only important issue in our lives. A truly enlightened being is free from suffering, free from all ties to this world, including the victim mentality and all other distorted types of reactiveness.
Good luck with your inner work! :-)
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