Assertiveness Strategies — How to Say No When You’re Scared to Death

Fear Infographic

Discover your strength…

Assertiveness is a choice you make and an energy you bring. A powerful time tool, assertiveness can be a challenge for many.

Sometimes being assertive means saying no.

In certain situations, that may feel like the easiest thing in the world. You speak honestly and communicate clearly. As a result, you exercise a lot of positive control over how you spend your day.

But other times, the word gets caught in your throat. Breathing gets hard. You’re just scared to death to say no.

Here’s a quick assertiveness quiz

How do you handle this now? Here’s a quick quiz to help you understand how you might approach this stressful situation. Try jotting down how often you resort to each of these actions, using “0” for “never” and 5 for “always”:

“When I feel scared to death to say “no”, I:

____ Put it off until the ideal time, like…never.

____ Trash myself for being fearful.

____ Fume over how impossible the other person is.

____ Push past my fears and charge blindly ahead.

____ Imply that my refusal is the other person’s fault.

____ TOTAL

What does this mean?

If your score is 0-5, saying no is not a big problem (unless you’ve figured out a self-defeating strategy that we missed).

But what if your score is higher?

In that case, your reluctance to say no probably hurts you even more than you know.

Resentments simmer, and relationships and self-esteem suffer. Over time, anxieties compound. Paralyzing fear takes quite a toll.

An assertive alternative…

There’s another way to handle this impasse. You must break outworn promises you made to yourself long ago.

Start by asking yourself 3 powerful questions. Ask them as often as you need to. Let the answers bubble up, and listen to each response. They will be chock full of useful information for you.

Ask yourself:

1. Where did your fear of saying no originate? It’s helpful to identify how much stronger and more autonomous you are now.

2. How did you believe silence made you safe? Give some thought to how circumstances have changed.

3. How does this trap you now? Seeing all the ways your old promise to yourself holds you back helps you replace your outworn approach with a more appropriate one.

The less you judge yourself for your fear, the more readily you’ll overcome it.

So now:

  • Forgive yourself for your reluctance to take risks.
  • Gently affirm that those old promises to never take major risks need to be broken.
  • Commit to carrying the best of you forward, and list ways you might do that.

It’s so exciting to build the strengths and internal structures to foster your autonomy.

And here’s something more for you…

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