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The Dynamic Dozen ‒ 12 Powerful Ways To Say NO!

Written by: Rosalyn Palmer, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.” Ernest Hemingway

In the very amusing movie ‘Analyse This’, mafia boss Paul Vitti (played by Robert DeNero) is in conversation with his (reluctant) therapist Dr. Ben Sobel (played by Billy Crystal).

Dr. Sobel says ‘no’ to Vitti and gets a very hostile response. This prompts him to say: “You don’t hear the word “no” a lot, do you?”. To which Vitti replies: “Well, I hear it all the time, only it’s more like “no, please, no!”.

According to research, by the time the average person turns 17 years of age they have heard the word “no” an average of 150,000 times, and the word “yes” an average of only 5,000 times.

That is why many seminal books on selling include titles such as “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” and “Gap Selling: Getting the Customer to Yes: How Problem-Centric Selling Increases Sales by Changing Everything You Know About Relationships, Overcoming Objections, Closing and Price”.

In short, hearing a “yes” is deemed to be good and a “no” is deemed to be a failure.

Yet while we may hear the word “no” a lot we are often very poor at saying it when it is for our own protection.

The British, in particular, are notorious for saying sorry and we often apologise for other people’s mistakes, such as being bumped into.

There is nothing wrong with good manners, but to always be feeling apologetic means you are not in your own power. You are probably very bad at saying “no”. The counterbalance is to have a ‘Say NO to’ list and to practice the items on it repeatedly.

Here are your Dynamic Dozen ways to say NO:

1. NO to toxic people: the ones who drain you of time and energy because it is always about them and their drama or their need to always be in control. These psychic vampires can literally drain the life from you. If you suffer from fatigue or headaches, keep a note of who you are spending your time with. Sadly, the worst energy robbers can often be those closest to us. If you realise this, then you have one of two choices: put distance between you and remove yourself from their presence, or create a protective shield around yourself that helps to make you resistant to their ability to suck your life force from you.

2. NO to Frenemies: especially those alleged friends who seem to love to tell you when you are wrong/screwing up again or look awful, as if this is some sort of helpful therapy for you.

3. NO to physical pain: if you have a physical condition that ranges from mildly discomforting to debilitating, the greatest gift you can give yourself is to at the very least manage and relieve this condition, or at best cure it. While tablets and medical treatments should not be discounted, especially for acute conditions, they can start to be counterproductive over a period of time. The very ‘cures’ themselves can bring side effects, and let’s face it, there are no ‘side’ effects. Only ‘effects’ and unwelcome ones. If you read the list of contraindications for most tablets, you realise just how debilitating these effects can be. Much physical pain can be cured through renegotiating with your brain.

4. NO to being wired by beliefs that are not working for you and are often not even your own. Recently a lovely lady announced to me that she could not go on a long trip to Australia because of her morbid fear of snakes. For good measure she added: “My mother passed this on to me. Without question, we take on the beliefs, fears or even phobias of our parents. For example, I hear phrases from clients such as: “My father believed that if you had sex before marriage you would go to hell.” This is a strong belief and religious beliefs are some of the strongest known to man. I would question: “Do you believe that? Have you questioned that belief? How is living with that belief working for you?” When we question beliefs, we can take away their power and hold. Just look at any dictatorship or extreme regime. The first thing that happens is that freedom of speech and the freedom to think is shut down. Don’t be your own dictator and shut down your own freedom to think and create the beliefs that work for you. Other beliefs are available that can create a better life and more joy for you.

5. NO to saying no to yourself. My son went for a new job a while ago. He is a very talented and hardworking chef. He had been loyal to his employers for several years, often in difficult conditions. As we were talking through his upcoming interview, he mentioned that he would be seeking the same salary as he was already on because “I don’t have experience in catering functions for more than 50 people”. I asked if they did many of these. “Some” came the reply. I asked him, “Who told you that because of this you couldn’t be paid more, especially with all your fine dining experience and good work record?” “Not sure” he replied. More gentle probing and he realised that the only person saying this to him is, well, he himself.

He got the job with a better rate of pay. He was saying ‘no’ to himself and elaborating it with a false belief or construct that made it seem plausible, even true.

When I was growing up, my parents never told me that a girl from a Midlands town, born in a terraced street that was subsequently pulled down, who attended a giant comprehensive (public) school couldn’t do anything she wanted. So, I never said no to myself. That is why my PR career in the 80s took off in the way it did. That is why I founded my own PR Company at the age of 29. No one was saying no, certainly not me, and if anyone was saying: “Oh you can’t do that… because …” I was not letting it in. In fact, it often galvanised me to prove them wrong.

6. NO to your old stories. I love stories – oral history is what mankind is founded on. Take a screenwriting course and deconstruct what makes a great movie (or book) and you find out that it is all about stories. The greatest speakers in the world, those with millions of clicks on TED Talks, etc, tell stories. The Bible, The Qur’an, The Tora etc. are all story-based. But what are the stories that you are telling yourself on a daily basis? Are you now in your 60s and still sticking to the old story of “I can never truly be happy because of my terrible childhood”?

I dealt with a wonderful man in his late 70s. All the life he had been unable to use not only public toilets but pretty much any toilet away from home. As he aged and his need to go to the toilet more frequently became an issue, he became almost housebound, afraid to go out. Hypnotic regression let him access a story his subconscious was telling him repeatedly that had been triggered by a shaming incident in the toilets at school and a domineering father at home. This was about 50 years out of date and no longer serving him. The past is a construct, and your mind or memory of it will create its own reality for you particularly if you play the scenes over and over again, investing more colour and drama and life into your story with each passing day.

If you have ever revisited your infant or kindergarten school, you will discover a few things. Firstly, the chairs are very small and so are the rooms. Secondly, the layout is not as you remembered it. The passageway from your classroom to the lunchroom or Head Teacher’s office is probably short and boring and not the ‘hall of terror’ from your memory. It was all about perspective at the time. When you were only five years old, those chairs were a lot bigger in relation to you. When you had to walk to the lunchroom and that cruel boy would shout ‘four eyes’ or similar at you, then that corridor became a place of fear, but now it is only continuing to be big and fearful in your mind. Not in reality.

7. NO to not daring to have the life you want and deserve. To open your heart. To take risks. In her brilliant book Daring Greatly (that I recommend to many of my clients), Brené Brown speaks from personal experience and how, following her breakdown, she learned that being vulnerable and open is the greatest strength you can have. She speaks about ‘wholehearted’ people who are able to engage with the world from a place of openness, even if loving in such a way means you get your heartbroken. Because the opposite is to stay shut. To shut down your heart and cut yourself off from others and joy because you are afraid of being hurt. No one likes being hurt.

Remember we are wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. We are wired to seek connection and avoid rejection, but the price of the ticket to avoiding pain can be so high that we get the opposite of what we desire. Such as: “I want love and connection and the status of marriage so the fact that Jim hits me when he has too much to drink is OK. He doesn’t mean it. Look at our lovely house and he is such a good dad. He loves me. I will stay.”

The character of Celeste Wright in the powerful American drama series Big Little Lies is played by Nicole Kidman. Celeste looks to have the most perfect life and incredible marriage to a sexy younger man who adores her. They have two blond, beautiful boys. A beachside house. She has amazing looks and body. She has friends. She seems to have a passionate sex life too until we lift the veil over the series and see into the dark reality of her world. That she is an abused wife.

Nicole Kidman won an Emmy award for her performance, and on accepting her award she spoke out on the need to recognise hidden abuse saying: “It is in this role that I come to fully understand the barriers that women around the world are facing. I have focused on lending my voice to women who are survivors of violence. The stories I have heard from them have shaken me to the core and changed me forever. More than ever, I am aware of the need to support and celebrate each other.”

8. NO to staying stuck because you just don’t know what you want. Take a piece of paper and draw a box on it that is just a little smaller than the paper when placed vertically. Outside the box on the top left-hand side write: In my life now. On the right-hand side write: Not in my life now. On the left-hand side outside the box at the bottom write: Don’t Want. At the top write: Want. Then draw a line across the middle of this internal box to create four boxes.

Then sit quietly.

Relax. Breathe. Think about your life now and the life you want to visualise or get a feeling about and fill in the boxes. Drill down in this exercise by taking the items in the top right-hand box (‘Not in my life now’ that I want!) and make an availability list. If, for example, in this box, you have ‘A clean and tidy and calm home environment’ then list what is available to you now. A cleaner perhaps? You may start to tell the story of ‘I just can’t afford that’, but can you if you put something on your ‘not doing’ list such as ‘Stop drinking half a bottle of wine each weekday evening’? This is a win/win situation. You will resolve to stop buying at least three bottles of wine each week and the money you save can pay for a cleaner once a month.

9. NO to being limitless. The movie, Limitless, is actually based on some truth. There is a drug, Modafinil, which was created as a medical helper for people who suffer from narcolepsy. If you suffer from narcolepsy, you suffer from the inability to stay awake throughout the day without suddenly falling asleep. Dave Asprey of BulletProof coffee fame (who I’ve met hold in high regard) has spoken in the past about using Modafinil and says it has improved his life but that he doesn’t need it anymore.

It is a nootropic – a drug that enhances your natural abilities or performance (this time to get more done and focus more). According to Dr Scott Vrecko, nootropics might not increase a person’s ability to receive, remember or process information; instead, they will have a positive effect on a person’s mood while performing these tasks. Vrecko spent a few weeks at an American university collecting testimonies from students and many said that the pill made them feel more capable of performing their tasks – even before they got started.

However, another study points out that Modafinil could induce a state of excessive confidence. My caveat is that we are not limitless. If you try to push through your natural boundaries, sleep patterns and energy levels on a regular basis, then you will find you are the opposite of limitless.

Let’s remember that we are human beings, not human doings.

10. NO to believing it is not possible. On the flipside of taking a Limitless pill is a pill that openly tells you that it is a placebo. A very interesting company called Xpill tells you that its (rather unimaginatively named) Xpill can help you to change your life, to become limitless and that this pill is a placebo and basically a super vitamin tablet. I attended a seminar where someone took one on stage with a glass of water. Before they swallowed this pill, they made a commitment to what it would change within them; from memory, I believe the young woman wanted to summon up the courage to make a country move to a new life. What the organisation behind Xpill has realised is that it is the intention, the visualisation and public commitment to your goal and dream that is important. The pill is a symbol of this. I’ve received a few newsletter updates from Xpill, and this lady made her move and many others have followed through on their vows. Perhaps we just need a physical representation or marker of those intentions?

Like Roger Bannister (who broke the four-minute mile) and all athletes who set Personal Bests and then better them, you can set and raise your ‘Limit Level’. After Bannister ran a mile in less than four minutes hundreds more athletes did the same as they knew it was possible.

If you Google ‘How to improve your life’, there are thousands of answers and courses and promises. ‘You can take your life back in five easy steps. Just follow my programme.’ ‘The five sure ways to gain success, every day.’ ‘12 Life Hacks that will make you unstoppable’, etc.

Who isn’t tempted by such promises? It can seem overwhelming and the dilemma is how do you sort out the wheat from the chaff? Having worked in close quarters with some of the world’s leading personal development gurus (formerly handling the PR for Tony Robbins, Edward de Bono and others) and attended across three decades and more continents the leading seminars and workshops available, I have some good insight here.

What is your level? If it is entry-level, weekend workshops such as Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within is pretty inspiring and will certainly fire you up. Events such as A-Fest and courses including LifeBook are a big investment of time and money and self-belief, but if you are ready for them and at a level that is nearing self-actualisation, then I would recommend them too. Or my own 13-week group course The Realigned Leader.

11. Say NO to a chaotic day. I love to start each day with meditation. It allows me to quiet my mind. I find that guided meditations are best as they stop the mind chatter from coming back in. The mind thinks involuntarily just like the heartbeats involuntarily, so trying to command it to stop thinking is like trying to stop your heart from beating unless you get some tools to help you. I used to lay awake at night with a non-stop chatter of thoughts and an endless mind full of a ‘to-do’ list taking the place of sleep. My body held so much stress that I had a number of stress-related illnesses. Using one of the many guided meditations or my own hypnotic recordings that I have uploaded on my phone, wearing wireless headphones, I start the day by taking 10 to 20 minutes to bring my awareness into that present moment and fill my head with positive thoughts. I use square breathing too, where you breathe in for four counts, hold it for four counts, breathe out for four counts and again hold it for four counts. This combination allows me to let go and face the day ahead in a more positive way and with increased energy. I then go and feed the sheep. I have nine pet sheep along with three dogs, two cats, six turkeys and 21 chickens. Animals keep me grounded for sure.

12. Say No to feeling alone. It can be lonely as a leader or an entrepreneur. You may not have other team members to support you or who you feel you can lean on. Think about mentors (alive, dead, real or imaginary) who could guide you in this process. Create a ‘Sounding Board’: a board of imaginary mentors who you can turn to for inspiration or guidance. For example, let’s say you want to set up a children’s playscheme. Walt Disney would have something to say about that. Have Walt on your ‘Sounding Board’. Invite him in your planning process to a meeting. “So, Walt, I was thinking that the playscheme could be all based on frogs. They are part of the cycle of life and I like them. What do you think?” Hear what he’d say in your mind.

You can of course involve real people. Who do you respect in your family, community, circle of friends? Does no one spring to mind? Then join one of the many business breakfast clubs, or networking associations, where the sharing of ideas, mutual support for business development and training are all regular and important activities. There are several great groups on LinkedIn for support and exchange of ideas too.

Whatever you choose to do, be mindful of why you desire any support. And don’t join groups just for the sake of it as you can become a group junkie (just as it is easy to become a ‘course junkie’, thinking that ‘one more course’ will finally give you the knowledge or confidence to do ‘the thing’ you know you want to do.

Your time and energy are infinite. Protect it and enjoy saying ‘no’ more.

The ‘Power of No’ is part of just one module of my highly rated 13-week group coaching course ‘The Realigned Leader’ of which one participant said: “I can’t recommend it highly enough. The investment is nothing compared to the life skills that I now have to always take forward with me.”

If you would like to know more about this high-level course or any of my 1-2-1 therapies/coaching then book a no obligation chat at:

Follow Rosalyn on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit her website for more info.


Rosalyn Palmer, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Rosalyn Palmer is an award-winning transformational coach and therapist and one of the Brainz 500 Global 2021 list of Companies, Entrepreneurs, Influential leaders and Small business owners recognized for their entrepreneurial success, achievements or dedication to help others. Her work combines advanced rapid transformational therapy with clinical hypnotherapy & NLP-based coaching to create deep desired changes. She works 1-2-1 with clients and via her group courses including the 13-week The Realigned Leader and The Realigned Life transformations. As best-selling author of the award-winning self-help book: ‘Reset! A Blueprint for a Better Life’ and three other Amazon bestsellers, Rosalyn makes emotional wellbeing accessible to all. She enables high performers to live their best lives that feel as good inside as they look on the super-successful outside. Rosalyn draws on extensive business experiences - in top London PR & Marcomms (‘retiring’ as a self-made millionaire at age 40 after a stellar career helping clients including Tony Robbins and Edward de Bono) and the insight of being conflicted when the outward vision of your life doesn’t serve you. Added to this are her deeper values and life experiences born from many challenges including cancer; redundancy; bereavement; menopause; divorce; financial loss that broke her open to finding out what really matters in life and how to live a life of balance and joy. As a natural communicator, she is the well-being expert for radio show Girls Around Town, has a monthly newspaper column, and two podcast series: Monkey Business and Life Alchemy.



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