Knowing how to accept a No: why is it important?

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Robert Maurer
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Knowing how to accept a No: why is it important?

Learning to accept a "No" is as important as knowing when to say it. Life is full of situations where we have to give up our desires because they cannot be realized. Accepting this fact allows us to grow.

Last update: April 28, 2020

There has been a lot of talk about the importance of saying "No", but little about the importance of knowing how to accept a "No". Saying "No" is just as important as knowing how to accept it. In life there are dreams and desires that are inevitably denied to us. So if we find it difficult to accept a "No", life may be more complicated than it already is.



The stage of life where we find it most difficult to accept a "No" is childhood. This is normal because children tend to be extremely self-centered. The ability to see things from a collective point of view is developed over time, provided that the education received from our parents has helped us to develop this ability.

Accepting a "No" puts us in front of our limits and this, in general, causes us unpleasant sensations. In these cases, the "No" is opposed to our desires and this causes us a certain frustration. These situations are not negative in themselves, they are part of the natural course of life and we must accept them.

“Limits define us. They define what we are and what we are not. They show us where we end up and where another person begins ”.

-Henry Cloud-

Knowing how to accept a "No"

We are all aware that there are different types of "No". Some, for example, are temporary, while others are permanent. Likewise, some involve renunciations that are not relevant and others require giving up on something we value, love or badly need. Every human being has to face various types of "No" during the course of his life.



Sometimes, the "No" is direct, like when we ask for something that is immediately denied. Others, this word is not clearly used, but it is the facts that make us understand that that thing is denied us and that we should postpone or give up what we wanted. Likewise, there are implicit “No's” that are communicated through gestures of rejection or apprehension.

Of course, we are more likely to accept a "No" when we know that the rejection is temporary or if the object of desire was not really important to us. However, it may be difficult for some people to accept this seemingly insignificant waste. For most people, the difficulty arises when the rejection is final or significant. But then, why is it important to know how to accept a "No"?

Learn to accept a "No" from others

Sometimes a "No" comes from outside. For example, when you have not been accepted for a job, a project, a university, a promotion or something else. Or from people close to us who tell us: "Don't touch me!", "I don't want to continue this relationship!" or "You weren't invited to the party."

This denial shows us a reality that, at times, it is hard for us to accept: others don't have to take care of our needs, expectations or desires. They are not there to make our life easier. They have every right to place limits on the situations that involve them.

Generally, the difficulty in accepting those “No's” arises from the fact that we fail to recognize the limits that exist between us and others. Interacting with others does not mean that we can always get something from them. We evolve more when we learn to accept a "No", be it explicit or implicit.


The "No" of life

The "No" of life are much stronger and unappealable. From the moment we are born we are given many possibilities and many more are denied to us. Limitations are part of life and parents who want to hide this reality from us do not help us.


We do not become strong when they do not impose limits on us, but when we learn to recognize them, accept them and face them. There are many things we will have to wait or fight for, or we will simply never get. To despair or deny that there are limits is a wrong way to deal with the consequences of those limits.


We will be much stronger and happier when we learn to accept the "No" of life. Otherwise, we will only increase our frustration and end up distorting or evading our most authentic desires. In this way we will live an impossible life instead of a possible one.

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