How to Say No to One of Your Dreams without Crushing Your Soul

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Saying yes to something we desire is the first step in making it happen. It’s the beginning of magic—the spark that ignites the fire and turns a dream into reality. During the journey from desire to creation, we need one thing more than anything else: focused action.

Without focus we’ll have many sparks going at the same time, and we’ll end up with a fire of chaos and confusion. Focus is the magnifying glass that harnesses the light of your desire and turns it into something tangible and specific.

When we were kids, others said no on our behalf—parents, family members, or teachers. As adults, we may have other people prioritizing our dreams for us—a boss at work, a spouse, or close a friend—but with our permission.

Left to our own devices, it’s a debilitating challenge. What do we say yes to, and what do we say no to?

How can we say no without feeling we’ve let ourselves down? Can we say no and not feel like we shattered a dream and lost part of ourselves?

How to say no to a dream without feeling like a loser

Feelings are the children of thoughts and beliefs. So if we look at how we think about letting go, we might feel better about our decision.

What I’m proposing today is more of a shift in perspective so we can see our dreams and choices in a different way. Below are a few suggestions on how we can gracefully let go, without feeling that something inside of us has died with the dream.

The bigger picture

We can’t look at our entire life when we’re absorbed in all its aspects. We need to take a step back and separate ourselves from all the unfulfilled dreams and desires.

When we’re too close, we tend to identify with everything. So letting go of a dream feels like ripping a part of ourselves.

When we look from a distance, we can expand our view and look at our reality. How long have we been dealing with the same things? What would happen if we actually let go of a dream?

The following questions might help when looking at the big picture.

  • Did you let go of a dream or desire in the past? If so, what happened?
  • If you let go of something today, how would you feel five, or ten, years from now? How are you going to be different
  • If your friend were dealing with the same dreams and situation, what would you advise him, or her, to do?

Writing things down might help in separating the dreams from the dreamer. Write down all the things you feel conflicted about. Then look at the big picture.

Choice is a dance of yes and no

In order to say yes to one thing, we need to say no to many other things—before we can take focused action.

If we think of the yes that comes with focusing on a different dream, we won’t feel like we’re losing by saying no to this dream.

Is the yes we’re getting worth the no? If we’re choosing to focus on a genuine desire, then the answer is absolutely. If we’re not sure of what we’re saying yes to, we need to explore our options before we make a decision.

The downside of a dream

We tend to focus all the wonderful possibilities of a dream. And we ignore the time and dedication we need to make a dream come true.

When we let go of a dream, we’re also letting go of the pain and responsibility that come with it. And that can be very freeing.

Priorities can be renegotiated

Nothing in life is set in stone, until we take our last breath. So if we choose to let go of something and realize later that we made a mistake, we can renegotiate our priorities. We pick what we dropped in the past, and let go of something else.

When we approach the decision of letting a dream go with a flexible mind, we won’t fear making mistakes. We can make mistakes, and correct our path, when necessary. It’s not the end of the world.

Self-love and compassion: You’re not your dreams

When we let go of a dream, we can do it with love, and with the understanding that we’re making the best choice possible for now, without judgment or fear of losing part of ourselves.

Dreams are possibilities within you seeking expression. Letting a dream go shouldn’t diminish your value to yourself and the world.

You are the dreamer, the chooser, and the creator. But you are not the dream, or the choice, or the creation. They’re just expressions of your brilliance.

All of the above are reminders of our power to choose our dreams and actions. And more importantly, how we think about our choices.

Letting go of a dream is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be soul crushing. We can gracefully say a loving no to a dream that’s been lingering for too long. And when we do, we embrace reality and focus on choices that serve us better right in this moment.

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