The Courage to Say No – the Courage to Quit

Ever since I was a little girl, my mother always taught me to never be a quitter, because if I quit that meant I didn’t really give it my best shot. Whatever difficulties arose in a situation, no matter how much I didn’t like my job or being friends with someone, I felt I had to stick it out to the bitter end, and so I did. I think for women in particular it’s hard to say no. We’ve been conditioned to be ‘good girls’. By societies’ definition this means we must acquiesce and not put up too much of a fuss. If we just go with the flow everything will be fine.

This ‘Yes girl’ program took me several decades to completely erase. Now in my 50’s I am saying no more than I have ever said in my entire life. It’s like I’m making up for lost time. Something deep within me is shouting, “Don’t be a YES girl anymore! You deserve to nurture yourself so if you have to say no, say no!” The little girl inside of me is jumping up and down with joy because I’m finally listening to her wants and needs. She was shushed by me for far too long. Okay in all honestly, not everyone will respond well when you say no. Some people will accuse you of being self centered and unkind, or call you a number of names because you have dared to refuse them.

They will even try to make you feel wrong or guilty for not saying yes to their request or demand. When I was younger that would have really upset me and prevented me from saying no, but now I’m not fazed by other people’s opinions of me. I realize that I spent too many years worrying about what other people think and not enough time honoring what is true for me. Saying no is like a breath of fresh air. I can feel my Spirit getting stronger each time I say no. It’s like I’m giving myself a gift of Self love and acceptance with each and every no, because I am choosing not to say yes just to make someone else happy. When I do say yes, I feel it’s a genuine yes that comes from the heart and not from a place of guilt or obligation. It is from this space that I can give of myself freely without resentment or depletion.


What is the gift of quitting?

Recently I had a friend call me because she was really agonizing over a decision about whether to stay in her Kundalini yoga training or quit? She shared that she didn’t want to run away from the training if there was something uncomfortable within her that was rising to the surface that she needed to go through but might be avoiding. After a few minutes into our conversation, it became crystal clear that the training wasn’t right for her. It was causing her body tremendous pain and suffering and she intuitively knew that this wouldn’t facilitate more deepening of her practice – in many ways it was contrary to her whole philosophy of yoga, which was to be gentle to the body and being. Many tears were shed as she realized that it was okay for her to quit the training, because it wasn’t right for her on numerous levels, yet there was still a part of her that feared she might regret it later.

The next morning she went to the yoga center and told her teacher that she decided to leave the program. Her teacher was very understanding and respected her choice, saying that if she ever changed her mind she was always welcome back. Then another woman from her training came up to her and said, “I could feel that you were going to leave. You’re an amazing woman, Katie. You have so many gifts that you don’t really need to be in this training. It’s not right for you and that’s okay.”

Katie felt relieved and grateful to hear this woman’s kind words. She got into her car to drive five hours back to her hometown and began singing with joy. A few days later she emailed me to say that she felt so much peace about her decision to leave her yoga training.

Sometimes it can take a great deal of courage to say no or quit especially when we have to make an important choice in our lives. I find that the more we practice saying no the easier it gets. This is how we can start creating healthier boundaries with our children, friends, parents and loved ones. People don’t know your boundaries unless you let them know. It’s quite natural for children especially to push our boundaries, but I have also experienced this with friends.

The more I am clear about what I will or won’t do, the more that other people in my life will understand what they can or can’t expect from me. Of course it’s still wonderful to be kind and caring to others and give of ourselves, but we must remember that we need to fill our cup up to overflowing first, and then there will be plenty of water to flow into other people’s goblets. If we always say yes and continuously empty our cup for others, we will become depleted and resentful – ultimately this is being unkind and disempowering to ourselves.

If you said no instead of yes to someone, what change could that create for you and for him?



Michele is a Shaman, hypnotherapist, Consciousness Facilitator, and retreat leader in the international arena. Her highly empathic nature and inherent gifts as a healer, together with her extensive training in a wide variety of healing methods enables her to assist people with numerous issues spanning from anxiety, low self esteem, emotional traumas and much more. She offers private sessions, workshops & retreats on and off Bali. Michele loves facilitating a different possibility for everyone she encounters.

For questions or comments about this column, pleaseemail:<>


You can read all past articles of Pathways at

Copyright 2017 Michele Cempaka