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I Couldn’t Say No!

Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t, couldn’t, or just CAN’T say no to your boss, your spouse, your kids?

Do you have an:

  • Unreasonable boss who always asks you to stay late to finish the report by tomorrow, or take that last minute trip to North Dakota in February!?

  • Controlling spouse who won’t hear of you changing your career?

  • Entitled teenager who refuses to learn how to drive and expects you chauffeur him everywhere?

I (CrisMarie) hear about these situations all the time when coaching women clients. When I suggest that they simply say, “No, that doesn’t work for me,” I get all sorts of push back:

  • “Oh, I could never say that!”

  • “I couldn’t let him down.”

  • “I’d be a bad employee, spouse, mom … (fill in the blank)”

  • “I couldn’t stand it if he was mad at me!”

So, you say yes when you really want to say no. You end up:

  • Exhausted or, even worse, sick

  • Feeling like you don’t matter

  • Wondering when you’re going to get to what you need

Can you relate?

I bet you can. I certainly could. I couldn’t find the courage to say no to my boss, my partner, my family. I’d promise myself next time would be different, but it wasn’t.

I Couldn’t Stand It if They Were Upset with Me

Even if I did work up my courage to initially say no, or tell them how upset I was, as soon as they’d start to react emotionally, I’d take back what I said. I’d cave and say, “NEVERMIND, IT’S OKAY. I’LL DO IT!”

I couldn’t tolerate if my boss or partner was mad at me; I couldn’t stand their disapproval. If they didn’t approve of me, I wouldn’t exist. So, I’d give in. Do it their way. In the end, I’d feel like my needs didn’t matter.

It was a frickin’ vicious cycle I felt trapped it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t crack the cycle.

My Kid was Managing My Relationships

It wasn’t until I was working with Susan and the horses that I realized – the something in me that couldn’t say no – wasn’t the adult me.

It was a little kid inside me! She was terrified. She was the one managing all of my relationships. It wasn’t working for the adult me.

The Ironic Twist?

The very thing my scared little girl didn’t want it to happen, meaning feeling like she didn’t matter, was the very thing I would end up experiencing – every time I said yes to their needs!

Why is This So Hard to Change?

I know some of you have tried to change this. You may have even done some thought-work to break the cycle, but it still goes on.

The reason is the person in charge of this cycle is a whole part inside of you – a young part.

This little one is trapped energy inside of you who has her own point of view, emotions, and body posture. She’s connected to your thoughts, your nervous system, your emotions, and your body.

She was wounded way back when and learned a strategy to survive. While her strategy kept you safe back then, it isn’t working so great now as an adult.

As long as this little one inside is searching for a sense of security, safety, and belonging from all these other people outside of you, she’ll be running the show. In fact, you’re letting her manage your adult relationships.

Really? She’s just a kid! She needs to know that YOU, the larger part of you, is there for her and won’t abandon her.

That little one will never say no as long as she’s desperate to be loved, to be accepted, to matter.

Take Care of Your Little One

Learning how to relate to, and essentially reparent, this little one inside of you is crucial.

This is why I use a body-based, inner-relationship approach in my one-on-one coaching. It helps you become bigger than your little girl. The larger part of you can take charge. You can say no and can tolerate someone being upset with you – without caving. As a result, your little girl starts to feel safe.

Another powerful method in developing a new relationship with your little one is working with the horses as we do in Find Your Mojo in Montana.

When you’re in an arena with a horse, you’re not working with just your cognitive brain. Your whole system is being affected in the energetic relationship with the horse. Your emotions, body, and nervous system are all being repatterned.

Plus, with the coaching Susan and I provide, you’re able to help that little girl feel safe as you shift into the one managing your relationships.

Don’t let the scared little one dictate what you do. Become bigger than her so that she knows you’re in charge, giving you room to finally and calmly say, “No, that won’t work for me.”

Today, when I say, “No, that won’t work with me,” I hold that little girl’s hand and let her know she matters to me.

Saying no, and thriving!


P.S. When Susan and I work together in Find Your Mojo in Montana, we combine our work with horses and inner-relationship coaching. This is an extremely efficient and effective way to help you reparent that little girl inside. Check out all the details for the next Find Your Mojo in Montana by clicking here.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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