Sometimes We Can't Say "No" Because We Fear Rejection

Jan 13, 2022

Just as children, we pleased to try to get the love and acceptance, and we become adults who please because we are afraid that if we don’t, our friends/spouses may leave (reject) us.

If we say “no,” they may not want to be in our lives and then we would be alone, which seems to be the ultimate hell for us when we feel empty inside.

One of the reasons we stay so busy is to avoid that empty feeling inside.

We think…Maybe the love we feel from those in our lives is because of what we do for them. This is frightening because that makes us dependent upon other’s approval.  We do everything in order to keep them in our lives.  We can’t lose them or their approval or we won’t have any at all.  We have no clue that we could give those very important things (love and acceptance) to ourselves…so we depend on others for it.  We even hide our real opinions with those we’re dependent on…we agree with everything they say, we keep ourselves quiet, and this just adds to our own hatred of ourselves.


I had been going to therapy for a few months, when I began to learn that my misery was not because the people around me were taking advantage of me and being demanding…it was all one me…my responsibility–it was because of my own people pleasing.

I learned that to get out of my depression and misery, I would have to begin saying, “no,” to people instead of pleasing them with my “yes.”  I could see the writing on the wall…some of my family and friends…would probably not “love” me or want to be “with me” if I changed course.  I was terrified.  But, deep inside I knew this was what I had to do for myself.

Then came the day I had to begin to practice what I had been learning would be for my best good. There was a family/friend that had been taking advantage of my kindness, with my full permission, for years. I remember calling her on the phone and telling her that I would no longer be available for that task that I’d been doing for her.  There was a great pause.  And the, she lost her mind.  She began berating me with her words.  She was angry.  She didn’t understand where this new me was coming from.  She rejected me because I said “no, I won’t be able to do this for you any longer—that I needed to be available to own kids more. I can’t express to you the pain I felt at her rejection.  I felt this pain in my body.  I felt it so strong, I almost wanted to take it back and return things as they’d always been!

But, with the support of my therapist, I held my ground and grieved the pain.

Soon, the conflict I had to go through became worth it, because the freedom I found in not doing everything everyone wanted of me felt so good.  The freedom in having the time to live my own life, and have more time with my husband and kids became priceless to me.

We therapists tell our clients, “It gets worse before it gets better.”  And it’s true…I had to go through the hell of changing course of my people pleasing and rejection…but the “better” part—OMG, what’s better than beginning to give love to yourself, to become interdependent with people rather than desperately dependent? What’s better than giving or doing for others because we want to!  Not because we’re pressured to in order to not be rejected?  What’s better than coming home to yourself for the first time and honoring your own life for the very first time?  NOTHING is better in my opinion!

Because you matter! ~ Cindy