Difficulties saying no usually relate to the desire to please and evasion of disapproval.
If you want others to like or approve of you – the thinking goes – you should be in agreement with them. People won’t like you if you disagree with them. So best not to disagree; best not to say no. Definitely avoid conflict, because that will certainly lead to dislike and disapproval.
So you don’t say no. And, actually, it’s better not to voice your opinion. If you voice your opinion and the others don’t agree with you, then you may be disliked and disapproved of. You’d better not have any strong opinions, then. You’d better not have strong principles. These will be sure to lead you into conflict – and result in dislike and disapproval.
But what happens when you don’t say no and keep quiet rather than voicing your opinions and points of view (if, that is, you dare to have any)? You put yourself at the mercy of other people – of their ideas, opinions, beliefs. You are an easy target for bullies. You’re not going to stand up for yourself, so you’re easy to push around. At least, you can be taken advantage of. Think about the type of person you are going to attract to you.
Does this behaviour result in getting what you want – approval and affection? No, it doesn’t. You get pushed around; or you’re invisible, unnoticed. Your attempt to be universally liked gets very nearly the opposite response.
You need to be liked by some people, of course. Everyone needs that. But you don’t need to be liked by everyone. Trying to be liked by everyone leads to behaviour which no one actually likes. The search for universal approval leads ironically to universal disapproval.
How can anyone really like you if no one really knows you? People can only get to know you if you express what you feel and think.
If you do this, some people won’t like you. But some people will. Isn’t it better that people like you because of who you are and what you say and do (rather than be a phantom for others’ projections)? Whether people like you or dislike you, at least they will know why! That’s why I always say it’s a good thing if some people don’t like you.