Saying ‘No’ With Grace

Have you ever been on a date where you want to say ‘no’, but feel awkward about it or afraid it may hurt your date’s feelings?

Perhaps you find yourself being more accommodating than what feels in integrity with yourself, yet you are unsure how to set clear boundaries with others?

Or maybe you are giving off confusing messages (feeling one thing and saying another) and having to deal with the outcome of being misunderstood?

Whatever the case, it’s never that easy to say ‘no’, especially when we’ve been socialized to be sweet, pleasant, and accommodating.

Yet ‘no’ is powerful and points to our deeper ‘yes’.

Watch this raw, unedited share of my own experience saying ‘no’:

The best part is continuing this conversation. How do you feel after hearing my thoughts? What are your own concerns about this subject? Please leave me your comments below.

Want to challenge yourself daily?  Join The Daring Project, it’s free for 30-days! Click here to join.

48 replies
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    Hello Saida I am embracing your content. I was 3 years without sex til the past week. My friends would ask what is wrong with me? I was finding myself again after being in an emotional destroying relationship which ended 5 yrs ago. I now have more confidence then I have ever had in all areas of my life. I currently have a friend where we have a mutual understanding – both not looking for relationship. Just 2 adults with many common interests who enjoy each others company. Who respect each others space. I never ever thought that I would be happy in this scenario being the person I was but now I have flourished. Thank you for this video as I feel supported with my current choice which is serving and nourishing my soul.

  2. Xell
    Xell says:

    Saida, you inspire me in how you stand in your truth with total power, honesty and integrity. Thank you. Your words resonate very deeply with my soul.

  3. Johanna Rosalil F Eriksen
    Johanna Rosalil F Eriksen says:

    Love the post! I recognize going about my business with a certain degree of muddleness. Now that I live with my partner, I am really becoming aware of this because I need to set boundaries every day several times of day, and in a good way. I have noticed that it becomes tricky for me when I miss his company and he is occupied with something else. I see these moments as a welcome way to learn to express what I miss or would love, and deal with the occasional rejection. At the moment, I see how I need to express myself without triggering some sort of pity-company. I suppose I’m looking to set a boundary gracefully in case he begins to offer pity-company. This issue, is actually one I experience with friends as well, and I can’t figure out if I give out some vibe or if people in general feel guilty saying no and then try to make it up to me at the same time. Anyway, great to get some inspiration Saida.

    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      AH!!! Great share Johanna, I really appreciate your perspective. Here’s my invitation: Keep going for what you love and keep seeing the people in your life as powerful. 🙂

  4. Angel
    Angel says:

    I seem to attract men who try to sneak touches, almost hoping you won’t notice what you’re doing. Not the ubercreeps, but nice people you’re having a chat with and all of a sudden their hands start wawing all over the place and “accidentally” stroke legs or arms, shoulders and sometimes breasts. I stuggle with giving a graceful no there, don’t really know how to do it gracefully so I usually pretend not to notice and excuse myself from the conversation and leave as fast as I can.

    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      Angel, these “nice” men are great gifts for you to learn to communicate what works and doesn’t work for you. Here’s the deal, ‘nice’ guys are studying how to make you feel more safe and connected through a lot of the ‘pick-up artist’ information. One of the tips they are given is to randomly touch women while they are talking, but this tip doesn’t work for all women and certainly doesn’t work if the touch is inappropriate. By being able to communicate what works for you, you demonstrate deep respect for yourself. For fun, I’ll put myself in your situation and do a role-play response (of course, you’d have your own version of this): I’m talking with my new, ‘nice’ male friend and he’s leaning in. At some point he reaches out and barely touches me. If I like it, I take it in fully with a breath. If I don’t, I also breathe and notice that I don’t like it. I notice, as we continue to talk, that he continues to touch me, so I reach out and gently put my hand on his and say, “I appreciate your desire to connect with me and being touched without permission doesn’t feel safe for me. (or whatever is actually true for you).” If he doesn’t respect that, I’d get stronger in my boundaries. Most men will stop if you bring attention to their actions without shaming them. On a more extreme version of boundary setting, if a man is very disrespectful, I’ve been known to break their nose to make my point clear (they were threatening to rape me and this stopped them).

  5. Sara Miller
    Sara Miller says:

    Thank you for that wisdom, Saida. I love how being congruant inside and outside is so much more honest! We can create our boundaries and still be respectful and kind about it. This applies to so many other situations in life too! Rather than feeling awkward rejection, it seems this way would be received instead as a tender gift of freedom and lovely truth. Love it!

  6. Mariposa Dana
    Mariposa Dana says:

    You are so great! I love your feminine and masculine energies so beautifully empowered: clarity/directness/discernment/commitment and grace/embodiment/sensuality/pleasure.
    Really value the inquiries you invite- what is the deeper yes we are choosing in a no- and the verbal/energetic modeling of phrases to express this clearly, full of pleasure, and kindly.

  7. Steph
    Steph says:

    I’ve been asking this question to the Universe for a while. I desire to be able to say no to a man lovingly and graciously when he asks for an opportunity to get to know me better. Honoring and respecting the good I see, and the courage I know it takes to put oneself out there, is important to me, as is speaking my own truth. I am seeing that it requires having clear boundaries and standing in my power. Now that I’ve watched the video, I am curious what I am saying yes to when I say no to that. I would love to have more conversations around this topic.

  8. Luhia
    Luhia says:

    Like Naomi, I really resonated with what you said about a different “YES” being so profoundly delicious that saying “NO” feels natural and safe.

    I have, for the past year or so, been navigating saying “no” in a slightly different context to the one you describe: a longer term romantic partnership rather than a casual club setting. (And also saying no to work commitments, family imperatives, friends etc etc) This idea of a different delicious YES really encapsulates what I’d been feeling deep down but hadn’t put a finger on yet; it’s so lovely to read someone else’s words and realise OOOHHH YES that’s what I feel!!!

    Also I suspect that saying no graciously ties into other themes you teach, like:
    – us seeing the person we are interacting with as powerful and sovereign (rather than trying to protect them from pain/insecurity/shame we anticipate/imagine/project that they might feel)
    – us noticing the stories that run our lives… for example, I used to systematically give into sexual interactions with a previous partner (even when I would rather have passed). My story was as follows: “We are in a win-lose situation; I am more spiritually resilient than he is –> my soul is stronger than his –> if someone was going to lose it might as well be me because I have the resources to handle it”.

    It’s a learning curve, and I’m grateful for your insight and suggestions and challenges, Saida, and for the sisterhood’s support in general!

    Love xx

  9. Majbrit
    Majbrit says:

    Really love this sharing, and you touch upon something so important as well; standing by what you’re motivated by whether it’s lust or something long-term. Women are still being judged for wanting a one night stand, and I think it’s important that we support our sisters, so no woman have to feel shame for her sexual desire. It also made me realize how much of a tendency I have to judge the motives of the men approaching me, almost degrading them as animals for feeling attracted to me. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Inga
    Inga says:

    I apparently misunderstood the question. The answer seems to be about how to say ‘no’ to a man asking for sex. What about how to say ‘no’ to that initial advance, just plain interest being shown?

  11. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    I love the idea of being direct. I have known intellectually for a long time that men prefer to interact with clarity and directness, but have struggled to manifest. The examples were helpful 🙂

  12. Pam, Seattle
    Pam, Seattle says:

    OMG. Flirting with men seems completely beyond my ability. At this time it’s the “Angel Falls” of erotic edges for me. Can’t even dip my baby toe in that yet. I’ll stick with Jade Egg Mastery for now. I really appreciate, and will remember, this wisdom, though. Thank you.

    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      LOL! Pam, I love your honesty. This can be for anything. Imagine how more ‘trustworthy’ we are when we are congruent, inside and out?

  13. Jaya
    Jaya says:

    Saida, thank you for sharing your insights…I think that our bodies and sexual energy are divinely unique to each one of us…violation of our bodies leaves deep scars and sexual assault is a gendered issue and addressing the gendered roles that perpetuate it is critical…girls are taught to be the gatekeepers whilst boys are taught to be sexually aggressive..developing sexual literacy, sexual empowerment for girls and women, especially given the prevalent culture of rape is critical today across the globe..and non consensual sex is never any point one ought to be able to say an emphatic no…its a simple word that needs no language…of course knowing our bodies, sexual wants, desires and needs is a process of learning and at this time with the Stanford rape case making headlines worldwide, and noting that if the two men had not stopped that night, the case would have never come to any attention is pretty sobering to say the least… this post of yours is very relevant in this moment so thank you.. I leave this quote..
    “The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self
    and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire.”~Audre Lorde

  14. Imani
    Imani says:

    Greetings Dr. Saida. Thank you for sharing this, it will be very helpful for me when I am single in creating boundaries. I have a question for those of us who are in an intimate dating relationships who we care about dearly, but we are not feeling up to having sex at that moment, because either our bodies are not feeling up to it, or the persons actions may have up set us to the point where we are not feeling like getting close to them at that moment, yet we still care for them. How do we say no to sex then, without hurting them or emasculating them?

    Also, for married couples. If the women is not in the mood for sex, how does she in a loving way tell her husband….not to night, without making him feel rejected? Thank you

    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      Great questions… What is the need in the moment? What would you need to feel desire? For me, one landmark of graciousness is RECEIVING. Can we receive a request fully AND still be true to our own needs? For example: Ummm… yes, making love with you would be very delicious. Right now I’m feeling very tired and I’d prefer to make love with you when I’m fully of energy, so I can feel like I have something to offer you. I’d be a lot more receptive in the morning. (or whatever is TRUE for you).

  15. Aloha
    Aloha says:

    Beautiful, dear Saida.
    This video should be in every girl’s primary education kit.
    I would love to share it with girls here (women of course as well!)

    See how beautiful you are? Our lives contain so much richness, truth and sensuality are forever intertwined in the natural logic of mysterious life. The sharing of one illuminates a reality (or “potential reality”) for many…. xXx

  16. Lily
    Lily says:

    I love what you shared Saida, I’m in awe of your 15 months and what you were able to see in that time, I would love to learn more about that. I second Naomi’s comment, I’m blown away by this:

    “When I did chose something, I took a strong stance in that thing and I didn’t make excuses for it. So my ‘no’ was always gracious because I was always saying yes to something else and my yes was so profoundly delicious that I didn’t mind expressing no.”

    This is exactly what is up for me right now. From your course I have a whole new way I want to practice that feels really delicious. Because of my physical disposition at this time in my life, for me it requires a set sleep schedule (10pm-6am) to anchor and carve space for my practice periods, with at least a couple hours to myself in the morning and evening.

    I’ve been having a challenge where my boyfriend sees my schedule as an arbitrary and unnecessary set of rules that he wants to rebel against. At this point I feel I have to step up my firmness about it, and I’m anxious about having his rebellion in the form of his special set of manipulations arise even more, about hurting his feelings when I “kick him out” (as he puts it), and I’m concerned that maybe I’m wrong or selfish.

    I feel like I get this feedback from EVERYONE that I am too rigid and I don’t understand how relationships and the world works if I can’t be flexible. And I do know what compromises I can make and still feel good, but even with those adjustments, so far I haven’t been able to communicate with him in a way that inspires him to want to support my wellbeing that comes from my boundaries around self-care.

    I know that I need to look at my beliefs around not having my boundaries respected and transform those, and I will use some lines from this video as mantras that will start to become my new reality. But I wonder if you have any advice about this? The ideas of radical self-care and sexual practice seem to be so counter-culture at this time, it can be really hard to be that strong stand for yourself when you’re up against an entire culture of people telling you the opposite of what you know to be true for yourself.

    Love you Saida! Thank you so much for this amazing video, for your wisdom and for the light that you are in the world!


    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      Hi Lily, have you shared what your needs are and how that looks like? Enrolling him in advocating for you claiming your sensuality, etc? He needs to feel like he’s on board, championing you versus feel like it’s him or your practice.

  17. Joan
    Joan says:

    I reiterate with the last comment. It all makes sense when you know what you are saying Yes to. The. It’s easy to say No, be it ever so graciously.
    Thank you. I enjoy your directness & honesty.

  18. Sony
    Sony says:

    In the past couple of weeks, the discussion of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ has really resonated with me. I had an email talking about FOCUS being the source of fear and joy, today’s LIVE call, there was a discussion around clarity of YES, it’s all pointing to… I can’t just sit back and let life happen, it’s up to me to create my bliss, by realizing it’s all within me and when I’m crystal clear, there’s no stopping me! AND, I can be gracious, acknowledge the other’s effort, and let them own their reaction. BIG LOVE to you ALWAYS

      • Bettina
        Bettina says:

        That is wonderful to hear. I had similar experiences when I was young. I had to say no only very few times. One close to rape where I was hitchhiking and was at knife point and only 15 but sexually extremely active. I have the opposite problem. I often do not feel like having sex after menopause . I do it because I love my husband and it is very satisfying afterwards. In this case I am happy to say yes even if at the beginning I meant no

  19. Mary
    Mary says:

    Hello Saida-this video was very helpful to me. I have always been a pleaser and have made choices that were more about what the other person needed to the point where I would disappear.

    Regarding being clear with what you want-I have recently ended a relationship/friendship because there were so many blurry boundaries and I finally said I want more from this but he did not. I felt so powerfully clear when I finally said, ‘I have feelings for you.’ He doesn’t seem to understand that and wants to continue as friends but I know in my heart I have to move forward and let go for my own sanity. Another way to say yes to what I want to create in my own life.

    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      Well done Mary! Our only real ‘job’ in relating is to champion our own heart & go from there.

  20. tali
    tali says:

    Thank you Saida! this was so paradigm changing for me.
    I think having a clear no or yes for me is coming from having more self-confidence and ability to know that I deserve to make conscious choices for myself and my body and my desires. it is helpful to be conscious of this in every choice.
    It is very helpful to see this modeled by you, as there are so many counter-examples out there, it can be easy to forget that it is not the only way.

    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      I love to hear this Tali. There is always a CHOICE, especially in things that appear ‘choiceless’. It’s helpful to know what of my own living experience can inspire other women, so I appreciate your feedback!

  21. Naomi
    Naomi says:

    Hi Saida,
    l love that idea: ‘my no was always gracious because I was always saying yes to something else and my yes was so profoundly delicious that I didn’t mind expressing no’.
    You have mentioned so often to notice what the YES is with every NO we find in ourselves, but I hadn’t come to place of really understanding what you meant until I heard your example.
    I love it! It provides me with so much more freedom to express all of my nos when I am very clear about the deliciousness and the integrity and the reasons behind the YES that I am actually choosing!

    • Saida Desilets
      Saida Desilets says:

      Awesome Naomi!! Amazing insight. I’d love to hear how it goes for you 🙂 And thanks for the compliment!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *