No one is born with a rule book.

Growing up is all about figuring out how things work, deciding what things mean

As a child, you probably were praised for

… listening to your elders

… doing good deeds

… keeping things in order.

And punished if not.

Saying ‘no’? Typically got you into trouble… leaving conscious and unconscious  imprints on those formative years.

But that doesn’t have to continue to define you.


The struggle to say ‘no’ is an opportunity to update outdated scripts

Let’s visit some of the scripts that may still now be running.

1. The Need for Approval

Do you tend to ‘be strong’ for others? Giving and generous?

Do you overextend yourself – and get annoyed when it’s not reciprocated?

IF on the surface you’re loving, helpful and considerate… but inside there’s a deep longing, an absence of ‘enough love’ … it’s could be time to stop the script that yearns external validation.

2. The Need for Control

Are you reliable, hardworking, caring and trustworthy? Loyal to friends and your beliefs?

IF it leaves you tired from overthinking, worrying, doubting and you want to stop feeling overly responsible – it could be time to let go of the compulsive need to control.

3. The Need for Belonging

Are you accommodating, accepting or agreeable? Good at reading what other people’s needs are but can’t seem to pinpoint your own? Do you constantly mend bridges between people and try hard not to ‘rock the boat’?

IF doing so leaves you feeling resentful and neglected – it could be time you finally give yourself permission to express what’s on your mind and not worry about what others think.


Change can be especially difficult if you don’t know where to start

Positive thinking … (‘It always works out in the end.’)

… ‘faking-it-till-you-make-it’… (‘I just need to keep my chin-up.”)

… relying on willpower… (‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’)

… an attitude of ‘gratitude’ … (‘There’s so many other things to be grateful for.”)

only work on the surface and can’t address the deeper basic needs, leading to frustration, wasting of time, money and effort and good will in the process.


That’s why working on blind-spots, reaching deeper triggers and rewriting the scripts matter

So, if you’re a people-pleaser?

Self-care reduces the need for external validation. Start small, like letting your mind wander when commuting to work, having a quiet cup of tea in the evening or going for a run. Create alone time – for yourself – something you enjoy that’s restorative for your being. And then cultivate more time to nurture self-love.

Too controlling?

Practicing deep patience teaches you to let go of your need for instant gratification. Start small… a deep (mindful) breath… walking (mindfully) around the block…  sleeping over it… to taking a 10-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat to experience the concept of impermanence, ‘anicca’.


Stretching your comfort zone will build-up your confidence to speak your mind and stand-out even in tense situations. Start with making small requests in a neutral setting, such ordering off-the-menu at a restaurant…to public speaking and self-worth.

“You are what you repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.

– Aristotle

Of course, there are other underlying unmet needs with varying approaches. And the struggle to say ‘no’ … becomes less of an effort …when you wholeheartedly seek clarity for your deeper ‘YES’ in life

Remember. Next time you struggle to say ‘no’…

… it’s simply your inner voice whispering,“… could it be time now?”

Since no one is born with a rule book…

… you do get to decide when to rewrite the script.


About the Author

Selena is a seasoned business executive having spent 20+ years in consulting, change management, HR and complex matrix organizations across five continents, with the aim for uncovering healthier and easier approaches. Selena left a successful ‘corporate life’ in 2016 … toward what would be her next era of meaningful work.

She now works with high-performing corporate executives and business owners to speed up time to success by addressing unconscious resistances, delivering a highly bespoke experience tailored specifically to each individual needs and requirements incorporating cutting-edge psychometric assessments where required (read what people say about working together).

As a CPA, an accredited Coach, as well as trained in the psychoanalytical approach to transformation and a meditation practitioner, she seamlessly weaves Eastern and Western as well as ancient and modern approaches – to unlock resistances and get results. Originally from Malaysia, she and her French husband now call Zürich home.