How not knowing how to say no is a problem; in general we hear "too good, too stupid" . This expression is often used in the feminine but there is no exclusivity and it can also be conjugated in the masculine. The feeling she carries is that of being fooled, of never being in the right place, of thinking that others know how to do better or that they have more rights.

The belief, born of upbringing or culture, that one should be there for others rather than thinking of oneself, is another source of difficulty. We can also not know how to ask, not know how to assert our needs. The opposition to self-respect or respect for the other is part of a discrediting of oneself.

In this system, the person underestimates ; she thinks that to exist is to cling to the desires of the other. There may also be over-estimation ; the person then believes they are stronger than the others and say "I take care of the other because I am stronger". In the first case, we rely too much on others, in the second we rely too much on ourselves.

A confusion to avoid: self-esteem and self-confidence are not the same thing. Self-esteem comes from being, self-confidence from what one is capable of doing. Some people know how to do it but feel a lack of self; they say to themselves "that by giving value to the other, I give value to myself".  

Attempts at solutions; they are many :

  • A belief: I must be nice or nice and think of the other first before thinking of myself
  • Avoidance: I am afraid of feeling guilty so if I have a choice to make, I will avoid saying no so as not to have to deal with a feeling of guilt
  • Avoidance again: I perform well and I have good self-confidence but I don't want to fall into a conflict to avoid the risk of falling out of love
  • Control in relationships: I feel invaded by the other but I won't be able to say no because I'm too afraid that the other will have a greater hold on me
  • Dependency: I want my needs to be recognized by the other; "after everything I've done for him or for her". This creates frustration. "When I have a need, no one sees it"
  • Isolation: "I'm going to take time for myself, I'm going to think about myself". In fact, without the possibility of sharing, the person will isolate themselves.     

Strategic interventions:

It's all about boundaries and limits. What framework do I build and what freedom do I give myself?

The distinction between being and doing is important. Distinguishing intention and behavior creates a difference within oneself.

  • Replace "I must" with "I want"
  • realize that we need
  • Learn to argue the no with a child, a colleague. Explain without justifying so as not to feel guilty, find solutions and propose them: a deadline, another way of doing things...
  • Develop the "no under conditions": "I want to say yes to you but not right away, or under such and such a condition".

There is a relational issue of self-respect and respect for others. All false yeses keep us awake at night; "we're doing the movie again".

The conquest of respect for oneself and for others makes it possible to gain autonomy. We become partners, we experience supported relationships and we gain self-esteem. In this type of therapeutic problem, we encounter perfectionist, tyrannical profiles of themselves whose no would cost their self-esteem too dearly.