Dr Anne Brown

Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No

Author: Dr Anne Brown | Self-published

A wise man once said, “the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” But before you can tell others NO, you have to able to tell yourself YES. Yes to embarking on a path of personal growth. Yes to ending the cycle of people-pleasing and self-neglect-finally and forever. Plainly put, you must develop a BACKBONE. Yes, it is a process and a journey. Yes, you will be tested. But on the other side of this crucible lies empowerment and respect. Let Dr. Anne Brown, a practicing therapist for the last twenty-five years, show you the way. Yes, it is worth it and no, you won’t be sorry.

I received an email from Dr Brown’s assistant, asking whether I would review the new audiobook version of Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No. Vaguely recalling a self-help philosophy which revolved around the importance of saying “no”, I’ll admit, I was intrigued.

I’m always flattered when the author contacts me directly for a review. It’s no small matter to turn your book over to a reviewer and await their (possibly public) feedback. I’ve often thought that must be a nerve-wracking, somewhat gruelling experience! Having listened to the audiobook, I actually feel quite honoured to have been entrusted with it as a beta reader. It’s a wonderful book.

I should state, for the record: I don’t like audiobooks. Or, at least, I never have before. I had a particularly cringy experience with a children’s book called Miss Rumphius a few weeks ago – and had completely sworn off them. However, in a self-help context, an audiobook allows the reader to develop a greater connection with the author. It adds inflection and tone. This is an angle on the audiobook I had not considered before – I may actually listen to all my self-help books in future! It was rather pleasant…

I found that, listening to her pleasant, Vanessa Redgrave-esque voice, I came to like the author. There was something both soothing and refreshingly no-nonsense about her. I rather wish she was my own therapist! If I lived in the US, I think I’d be inclined to book myself in!

In terms of the quality of the recording, I thought it was generally excellent. However, I did note a few long pauses and points where the author stumbled over a sentence; I expect that will be fixed in the final version, but it didn’t spoil anything for me. I did think that where the titles were read aloud, they ought to be prefaced with a pause and some sort of form of differentiation – a musical sound, perhaps? A different tone of voice? And the same where the author read examples of dialogue, which, in print, would fit naturally and seamlessly into the text; but, in an audio text, required some distinction or explanation if they weren’t to sound a little unnatural. It was a style I got used to, but it could be improved upon.

That being said, I found the content so utterly absorbing as to forgive any minor issues. And I am reviewing the beta-version, so any such points will likely be fixed before release.

The essential message of Backbone Power is deceptively simple: say “no” when it’s in your best interests to do so; allow yourself to make requests, ask for what you need; and speak with authenticity. So far, so good.

We all know, you can’t serve from an empty vessel, and self-care (which does involve saying “no”) is key to a happy and healthy life. We all know that occasionally, you have to say “no” in order to set healthy boundaries. I think few of us would argue that these are good, solid points. However, I think most of us could also say, if we were honest, that we don’t always do these things consistently. Backbone Power examines why we struggle to say “no”, and how to move through the process of developing our ability to set healthy boundaries and live in a way which is authentic. I was impressed by the depth with which the author examined her subject, the solid research and clinical experience on which the book was based, and the carefully ordered, therapeutic approach.

Backbone Power is eminently quotable, full of common sense, and packs a more powerful punch than you might expect. It’s deeply honest, sometimes brutally so, but also had the ability to amuse me. It’s a wonderful resource.

I don’t usually give trigger warnings, but, in this case, I feel I should mention that there were real life examples of child abuse, dysfunctional childhoods, and abusive relationships, which I found quite harrowing listening. It also definitely brought up some of my own issues and forced me to re-examine certain areas of my life, which was unexpected and not entirely comfortable. Some tears were shed… But such delicate and difficult subjects were handled sensitively, with compassion, and in such a manner as to move the reader (listener) through the mire with grace. You felt throughout that you were in safe, experienced hands, and this was a process you could trust.

I was deeply impressed by the author and found Backbone Power both challenging and valuable. The author’s voice was warm, friendly, even soothing; while, at the same time, full of personality and very matter of fact. I found myself taking copious notes and quite unable to put the audiobook down.

I cannot recommend Backbone Power enough. I would go so far as to say, it should be mandatory reading. It truly had so much to impart. I came away feeling like I had been through the emotional wringer, and, yet, was somehow lighter and the better for it… I’m quite sure I’m going to need to buy the book and read it all over again.

Some of my favourite points (I’d say quotes, but, since it was an audiobook I did have to rather scribble on the fly! I have no idea if the actual sentences are correct!):

Saying “no” is simply a statement that you cannot do something – it’s not a rejection

Signs that you should say “no”, when you have been saying “yes”:

  • Resentment
  • Anger when someone makes a request
  • Out of character blow ups
  • Avoiding relationships


No is a complete sentence.

We can only make the request – we cannot control the outcome. But we must make the request or risk resentment.

If we’re honouring our standards, we should have few complaints about how we’re treated in the world.

Note the people in your world who do not allow you to make requests.

Confrontations should always result in both parties leaving with dignity and respect.

People don’t have to like you. And you don’t have to care.


5 Archimedes

What do you think of audio self-help books? If you’ve read Backbone Power, what did you think?

5 thoughts on “Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No”

  1. I haven’t read self help books for a while. I don’t think i’d want to listen to them on audio. I’d love to make notes and save highlighted parts and possibly re-read some paragraph. It just seems like a hassle on audio.
    The topic is good tho, so i’d read it in book format 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely felt the same… and I didn’t like audiobooks at all really… but it was kind of nice! I dont read massive amounts of self help stuff either. That and the audiobook were actually quite a nice change… my non fiction is usually how to make your own whatever or history / biography! I liked it, the subject was sound. I definitely recommend it if you get a chance to check it out

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s