If I say “no”, they’ll be furious

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A man sat with me on skype, far away in another time zone by distance, but fully present that moment to a deeply painful belief: if he said “no” to his father, his father would go ballistic with rage. 

He had proof. From his childhood. 

He was so upset with himself for feeling the same way for over forty years. 

“I’ve been such a people-pleaser. I’ve kissed ass, I’ve bent over backwards for my bosses. There’s no way out of this, I never change. I’m just too scared.”

He spoke the words of someone who feels hopeless. 

I could relate.

While I didn’t have a father who went ballistic with rage, and fortunately came from a household growing up where physical violence was rare, I had that same automatic reflex of wanting to be pleasing to others and not make them mad. 

Especially parents, people I believe I needed. 

If I said “no” they’d get really angry and stop talking to me, or punish me by withdrawing attention or support. They’d make it clear I was “bad” or “wrong” with my no, and maybe even tell other people who would also reject me.

Byron Katie talks about three things we humans tend to become crazed for: love, approval, appreciation.She calls it LAA for short.

It doesn’t feel so la-la when you’re desperate for it, right? 

Your thought is that person doesn’t love you, and you neeeeeeeed their love, approval or appreciation. The mind thinks “I can’t stand someone out there NOT LIKING ME!”

I thought this about siblings, romantic partners, parents, friends, co-workers, bosses. 

If I received a disgusted look, a critical remark, a dismissal, a sarcastic comment….oh no, here it comes: I can’t say “no”, I can’t express my own opinion, I need to be pleasing, I need their appreciation, I need to repair this, I need to get them to like me again.

Just like the dear inquirer who sat with me, let’s do this.

Is it true you need their approval, love, appreciation, acceptance?

Yes. I hate not having it. Except…..no. I will not die without their acceptance. 

Even in the case of this inquirer doing The Work where he thought because he said “no” in the past, his father would hurt him, he realized he survived. He was OK. He even ran out the front door. 

He then moved away and grew up. Reality was actually kinder than his expectations about it.

How do you react when you believe you need them to like you? You need them to approve, accept, appreciate you?


It’s a horrible, endless effort to get what I think I want and need from them: Their smile, them saying “we’re so alike and you’re so brilliant” (or whatever I think I enjoy hearing), their hand reaching out to me, their praise. 

When I believe I want it, and I’m not getting it, I definitely don’t say anything I think they won’t like. 

Like, “no”. 

I don’t want to disappoint them.

I feel sick.

Maybe, I eat, smoke, drink, spend, watch TV, go to the internet, try to grab some kind of pleasure or avoidance somewhere else.

So who would you be without the belief “if I say ‘no’ they’ll be angry” or even more importantly “I need their love” (and disagreement means I don’t have it)?

It doesn’t mean you’d be a cold, heartless beo*%ch. 

At least that’s what I’ve noticed. Because I still see a human being who wanted time with me, who wanted me to say “yes”, who wanted it the way they wanted it. 

Just like me.

Without the belief I need anyone’s love, approval or appreciation….I simply tell the truth. 

I don’t feel afraid of people’s questions or requests or suggestions. I respond with interest, curiosity, and my own questions if I have them. I feel like there’s solution possible, even if we don’t know it yet. I don’t feel despair or like giving up. 

Turning the story around: 

  • If I say “no” they will love me. I don’t need their love. Could be just as true. Can you find examples? For me, I’m aware the person I say “no” to still accepts or appreciates me. Perhaps they’re disappointed, but it’s because they love me, not because they don’t. 
  • If I say “no” I won’t love myself. I need my own love. True. I see the other person’s upset, and I quickly decide it means something about me. I forget to love myself, and feel my open heart towards them even as they have a tantrum (LOL). 
  • If they say “no” I won’t love them. They need MY love. Also could be true! I’ve been angry that person didn’t give me exactly what I wanted, er, I mean demanded. Yikes! Perhaps they only wanted something, and I refused to give it, and just like me they perceived this meant I didn’t care, love, appreciate or approve of them.

“Suppose your hand moved for no reason, and he found that unacceptable–wouldn’t it be obvious that it was all his show? If he criticizes you, and you take that personally, you’re the one who hurt you. The story you impose onto his criticism is where the pain begins. You’re arguing with reality, and you lose.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself 

Woah. So, if I see that person upset when I’ve said “no” (or anything else for that matter) then I upset myself when I take it personally.
Who would I be without that story?

Free to say “yes”, to say “no”, to be honest and kind in the presence of anyone, and everyone.

Much love,Grace

P.S. If you’ve felt like you’re bracing yourself against the one who was once connected, and now is NOT (separation, break-up, divorce) and all the associated stressful beliefs that rise up around this person….you may love the upcoming class “Divorce is Hell: Is It True?” starting Sundays in January. Sign up here.

Never heard from her (or him) again?

if they aren't answering or calling back....The Work
if they aren’t answering or calling back….The Work

Have you ever had a relationship end on a slightly sour note….

….or a slammed door with no speaking for a long, long time?


Several years ago, I didn’t understand why a really good friend of mine wasn’t responding to my emails.

At first I noticed, but didn’t worry.

She was a strong, independent, outspoken, fairly opinionated person. Super direct.

She ran her own business, had a pretty tight calendar, and sometimes had even reminded me of a good military personality, like the boss of the event, the one in charge, the one running the meeting.

Those qualities can be spectacular and useful, depending on the situation.

Sometimes, these qualities can be a bit icy.

I didn’t push or consider it much, until I had thought “wait, I haven’t heard from her in a super long time, come to think of it.”

I checked to see if I really did email her.

Yes, it showed up in my Sent files.

I sent another quick one out letting her know I’d love to hear from her and it seemed about time to connect and catch up.


After a few more weeks, and a few consultations with good friends, I decided to give her a call.

I got her voicemail.

Nothing back.

This time, I consulted deeply with a few people whose advice I would appreciate, like my mom.

I went over the past several months, as if looking to see if I missed anything about what would make her unable to call or email, or unwilling.

There were a few educated guesses.

And what I got from these thoughtful conversations was that I loved this friend dearly, was worried about her, wondered if there was something amiss.

I called again, got the voicemail again, and left a long message (it got cut off) and called again to complete the message, including how much I loved and cared about her and if she needed to share anything at all with me, I was open to hear it.

A week or so later, she sent me an email saying “I’m soooo busy, thanks for your sweet message, I just don’t think I’ll be available until a couple of months from now because x, y, z.”


A bit odd.

But nothing else I could really do.

I shrugged.

I never heard from her again.

Last week, during another Year of Inquiry telesession, I was remembering that period of time where silence ensued.

The experience of asking a question, and the person not answering. Making a call, and the person not calling back. Sending a letter, and not hearing a response. Reaching out, and getting no reply.

This can happen even with strangers, in business situations, in workplace communication, and with close family.



Anyone there?

What a great moment for The Work.

Who would you be without your belief that someone should respond to your question, card, note, text, call?

Who would you be without your beliefs about what it means?

Free to express yourself honestly, with kindness and love, and then let it go.

During that time of no-response, I knew something was up (I learned later what it was and have shared about this in other Grace Notes.)

I had no idea this friend was suffering the way she was, and that she was frightened of me (or who she thought I was).

But since I had The Work, instead of getting angry or hiding my fear, I left a deeply honest message, with my heart racing and my armpits sweating bullets….

….and I told her how much I loved her and wanted to make contact.

That was the real truth of it.

Without The Work, I might have avoided, let it fade away, been sad and always felt like a victim.

What if you turned your thought around: I should call them back, I should contact them, I need to reach out, I need to express or communicate with them, I need to be with me, this silence is pleasant, beautiful, sweet, they do not need to go faster, this is a lovely, perfect pace, I need to be with me, I should call myself back.

Yes, I can contact me, right here, noticing the beauty of silence.

I can hold this other person’s qualities with appreciation in my heart, and open to how it is just as good not hearing from them as hearing from them.

I might notice what I truly really want, and enjoy, in this lack of communication.


“For underneath all the words, underneath all the sounds, the complex stories, the agreements and disagreements, the shared history, the hopes of a tomorrow, there is a love here with no name, a silence which cannot be disturbed, a timeless intimacy in its infancy that is ever-present and fresh, a deep rest that endures even after the passing of the impermanent body. Love is stronger than death. May we always meet in this deathless space we call Now.” ~ Jeff Foster

Even when the person has not died, but is somewhere unknown and not communicating with you….

….you can meet in the space of love, right now.

Send them kindness, tenderness, and acceptance, and give yourself the very same.

If you’ve done the best you can, trust reality.

Much Love, Grace