In a world dominated by expectations and external pressures, saying no can be as terrifying as it is important. This can be especially true for women or feminine appearing folks, whose "No" is often used as justification for violence by others. While safety is important, the skill of saying no in the face of pressure is vital, even if it's only utilized in safer situations.
But how do you learn to assert your "No" when the world around you wants you to do the opposite? Aren't you letting folks down?
The first step is to reframe how you view the act of saying "Yes." When you answer "Yes" to something you dread, aren't you less enthusiastic? Do you speed through the task and wonder where time went? Or do you dread it, drag your feet and complain while doing it, and feel miserable and grumpy, rather than engaged with the task and the people you are doing it with?
Now think about the last time you said a "Yes" you meant with all of your heart. How did it feel to say?
How much does your "Yes" mean if it's said when you really want to say "No" instead? The more you say "No" when feeling it, the more honest and meaningful your "yes" becomes.