June 6


Fibromyalgia Recovery – The Surprising Downside to Saying No

By Sue Ingebretson

June 6, 2023

brain, Change, chronic illness, coach, coaching, fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia recovery coach, partner, plan, recovery, sabotage, saying no, solution

How’s your fibromyalgia recovery going? Have you found strength in saying no to overdoing, over-committing, and overthinking?


Well done! Sometimes, saying no plants you firmly into your center of power.


But at other times, saying no can become a weakness. And, it can actually stall and sabotage your healing progress.




Read on to discover why and when saying no can do more harm than good.  



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WHEN Saying No Comes Easily

We all know that saying no can be hard. Especially if you’re a people pleaser or if you don’t like conflict or making waves. That’s me to a T.


But there is a circumstance where saying no is easy. In fact, it takes next to no effort or thought at all.


I discovered this the hard way.


Years ago, as a new and very fervent fibromyalgia coach, I wanted everyone to experience the level of recovery and improved health that I had. I eagerly presented my clients (and anyone who would listen) with the path I’d taken from chronic illness to chronic wellness.


Because improving my nutrition was the first step I took, I’ll use that as an example here. I did in-depth research into my client’s food preferences, sensitivities, and allergies. I created tailor-made recipes and meal plans. I made charts and graphs for them to track their progress.


While some followed along, some did not.




First of all, people generally fall into two basic camps when it comes to following programs. Some eagerly embrace the “Just tell me what to do” philosophy and others are more like, “Don’t tell me what to do, but give me info so I can make my own path.”


Either way is fine. But here’s the important part about saying no.


Both types of clients found it easy to say no to some of what I suggested. They gave dozens of plausible reasons from food likes/dislikes to time limitations and difficulty of sourcing ingredients.


But, none of that matters. Seriously.  


The reasons given really don’t make much difference. The important part to understand is that it’s not only easy, it can almost be a knee-jerk reaction to say no to solutions offered by someone else. And, for those people-pleasers — while they may not say no out loud, they may think it. 😉


This isn’t a character flaw. It’s just human nature.


It’s SO EASY to say no to solutions offered by others.


WHY Saying No Can Come Easily


Without getting deep into the neuroscience of the different parts of the brain and how they react, I can simplify it to this:


There’s a very primal and primary part of your brain that does NOT like change.


In fact, it’s so averse to change, that it wants you to stay exactly where you are. Reluctance to try new things is one aspect, but complete rejection happens when the brain feels that change might be hard, complicated, or in general, requires effort.


Effort is exhausting, isn’t it? It’s so effort-ey!


As with all improvements, we can only change our behaviors when we become aware of them (without judgment!).

HOW to Work with Your Brain Instead of Against It


First, start by noticing how you feel about chronic illness solutions, programs, and treatments that cross your path. Suggestions abound so there’s no shortage of opportunities to experiment with this. Opinions come from TV, social media, online sources, print media, family, friends, and even the stranger sitting next to you on the bus. And, these are just the passive or unsolicited opinions.


The point is that they’re everywhere. Start to pay attention to how you feel. Coming from an unsolicited source, you’re more likely to say no or reject the notion. But, what if you didn’t? Try thinking, “I’m just going to stick a pin in that.”


I’m not suggesting you implement every idea.

I’m suggesting that you entertain the ideas.


The brain is very tricky. It can talk you out of just about anything. So, what I’m suggesting takes practice. Begin to respond to suggestions with, “Maybe. Perhaps.” Or, “I could do that if I choose.” Practice and repeat.


Can you feel the difference?


What I’m actually saying, is to embrace your wishy-washy-ness. It’s a thing. Becoming a bit wishy-washy allows your brain to process something between a firm yes and a definite no. It’s okay to be there. Living in the land of maybe is filled with potential and opportunities. Maybe Land is a great place to pause and take stock of your resources while you make decisions about what’s best for you.


Saying no is a closed door.

Saying maybe is more like a swinging gate.


One slams shut; the other invites choice.


Living Beyond Maybe Land


Now that we’ve covered the When, Why, and How of the downside of saying no, the obvious question left is, Who?


Who are you going to be when you begin to open up to the possibility of change? Who will you be as you step into Maybe Land and weigh your options? Who will you become as you experiment with change?


And, here’s the most powerful thing to learn about your brain. The solutions that YOU come up with, that YOU create and consider, are the ones that you’re most likely to stick with. (Forgive the grammar there.)


When you weigh your options and come up with your own solutions, your brain has a better buy-in. It’s more likely to accept the solution and less likely to come up with resistance and roadblocks.


What more of that?


The best way to come up with personalized solutions designed for you is to work with an informed partner. Choose someone who has walked the path you wish to discover for yourself. Choose someone who has the education, experience, and the type of support you’re looking for.


There’s no need to go it alone. Your brain will continue to make things challenging, but when you work with an experienced coach, you’ve got a partner to help you notice where there’s resistance, where you sabotage your own success, and what to do instead. 


Would you like support in making changes?  


Would you like guidance on how to make changes with more consistency? Connect with me on my Work With Sue page and let’s have a conversation. 

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson