Why is the word “no” so hard to say? For years, my husband has been telling me to say, “I’d love to but…” Do I do that? No. Why? Because I learned that I am a “people-pleaser.” And, I’m not alone.
According to Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No by Dr. Anne Brown, many people are classified as “people-pleasers.” Dr. Brown says, “people-pleasing can cost us our health, personal life, finance, relationships, career, dignity and serious illness.”
Sometimes saying no to something is simple, like if someone asks you to go for a bike ride. But many times, it’s more difficult. For example, if a family member asks to borrow money and you know from past experience that he or she will never give it back, how do you say no?
Dr. Brown writes that people-pleasers have a hard time saying no because they don’t want to hurt others’ feelings. They would rather go with the flow than to cause conflict and yet, that all comes back to bite them in the end.
She says that some of the symptoms of people-pleasing includes feeling like the following if you say no:
- Using excuses
- Rejecting someone
- Controlling the situation
- Being difficult
- Causing a conflict
Dr. Brown discusses various situations by disclosing some of her individual therapy sessions. Most of the time, these individuals are in negative situations that they try to overcome. Some are in abusive situations while others are just not happy in their current relationship.
If you don't “rock the boat,” Dr. Brown stays the person will feel resentment, anger, have out of character blowups or even avoid relationships.
She teaches the reader to learn to “speak authentically.”
Each chapter ends with a homework assignment to help the reader become more confident in order to say no.
In Backbone Power, Dr. Brown explains how to stand up for oneself through real life examples and therapy sessions. At the conclusion, she has a whole section that enables the reader to write down their feelings and their fears. It’s grouped into three sections – emotional history, family history and spiritual history.
In addition to seeking counseling to overcome insecurities, she encourages the reader to take up healthy living by exercising, trying to eat right, being with supportive people, standing and sitting up straight, taking up martial arts, keeping a journal and setting a physical goal. In addition, Dr. Brown suggests having some type of accountability.
Backbone Power is a powerful book for anyone and everyone who has struggled with saying no. I would recommend it. It’s easy to read and a helpful workbook that will help you to say no.