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How to Say No, Without Feeling Guilty

Empowered I am a recovering over-giver.

I won’t get into the details of why and the many layers of where this came from. But what I will say is that being an “over-giver” is a very common way that someone who is Highly Sensitive (like me) uses to cope with his or her sensitive nature.  It’s a completely unconscious act, because we really do want others to be happy.

Generous giving feels light and joyful. It comes from a generous place and a full heart. Over-giving feels burdensome because it’s a one-way flow of energy; giving from a depleted heart. Unfortunately, when you give to the point of depletion, you don’t allow yourself to receive. And if you can’t receive and fill up your heart, then you’re trapped in an endless cycle of one-way output; rather than giving from a place of overflow.

For many people, unconscious over-giving can keep us trapped in a place of always giving to others and neglecting to give to Self.

I remember a specific time in my life when I was juggling a lot. At that time, I was a business owner, a wife and a daughter. And in each of those roles, I found myself to be the caregiver. It was tough times. I was basically in a crisis management role for four years. Giving, giving, giving. A piece of my soul was slowly dying each day.

At a certain point, I cracked. It was literally after everything fell apart – very timely! I was completely depleted of all life force.

I was forced to re-evaluate how and who I was being in my life. I’ve heard this time in ones life referred to as the dark night of the soul. Well, it was dark all right, and a necessary step in my journey of personal growth.

This is when I learned the power of saying no, which I call the Empowered No. This was about saying no to others and yes to myself.

At this time, I was also really feeling the distinction between being selfish and preserving my Self.

For many of us, saying no is a challenge. We have been brought up to believe that putting ourselves first is bad, selfish or wrong. There’s a reason why the airline steward tells us that in the unlikely event of a plane crash we are instructed to put our oxygen mask on first, before our child’s mask. We can’t serve others if we don’t first take care of ourselves.

Making yourself a priority is essential to living a peaceful, joyful and successful life, and crucial to being the business owner that our employees, partners, and customers need us to be.

To do this you might have to say no to certain people and park certain opportunities that could knock you off your path.

What I have found extremely helpful in my journey to getting to an Empowered No is to develop some scripts for myself. So that I have the words at the ready when the moment strikes. In the moment, it can be tough to come up with something clever to say when we’ve been emotionally hooked. When we’re not prepared we get sideswiped really easily and sucked into doing something or agreeing to something that we kick ourselves for later. Doh!

Here are some phrases that you can borrow from me, until you begin developing your own:

  • “That doesn’t work for me”
  • “I have other commitments. Let me check my schedule and I’ll get back to you”
  • “I need to do some self-care right now”
  • “This is not a priority for me at the moment”
  • “I just don’t have the bandwidth to take this on right now”
  • “Thank you for the invitation, and I really wish I could join you, but I’m not able to”
  • “I wish I had the time to dedicate to this project right now, but I don’t”
  • “I appreciate you thinking of me but my heart wouldn’t be in it”

So, as you think about the different areas of your life where you’re feeling depleted or over-burdened, how might you begin to shift the energy?

What is one thing you can implement today? And what is one way you will keep yourself on track as you strengthen this newly formed muscle?

Don’t settle. Ask for what you want and need from others, and speak your truth even if your voice wavers. You are worth it, and you have the right to be in harmony and peace within yourself.

I am walking the same journey as you, and I continue to call myself forward to step into my voice, own my life and succeed against any odds. My purpose is to inspire others to do the same. If you want some support to navigate this path, I invite you to reach out to me and schedule a 45-minute (no obligation) phone call. I’d love to share my insights with you for untying the knot that’s keeping you stuck.

About Michela Quilici

International Business Growth Coach, Award-winning Marketing Strategist, Best-Selling Author, Speaker and Forbes Coaches Council. Known as a Business Navigator, Michela works with growth-minded business owners, service professionals and CEOs who want to ignite their businesses and accelerate growth, while building a business aligned to who they are.

She is passionate about creating roadmaps that ignite leaders to take inspired action to navigate their growth on purpose using strategy, systems and self-leadership, so they can get noticed, get clients and get profitable.