Welcome to the third and final post of my three-part series about saying “no”. If you missed the first two, click here to read.
Now it’s time to talk about boundaries, not the kind that define property lines, but the kind that keep our personal space safe.
Personal boundaries are a way of communicating to others that you respect yourself. Without self-respect, people will unwittingly take advantage. You become the ‘yes’ girl. The one who gets things done. The one who will ‘take care of it’. The one to call when everyone else says ‘no’.
An easy way to identify if your boundaries are healthy or not is your energy and frustration level. Check in with yourself:
-Do you have enough time for ‘you’?
-Do you cringe when certain people call because you know it means ‘work’ for you?
-Moms – are you showing up for your kid’s activities with enthusiasm or does it feel like just another thing to do?
-Are you putting everyone else’s needs before your own?
-Are you expecting someone else to fill your needs automatically?
-Do you feel guilty when you say ‘no’?
Wikipedia describes boundaries like this: “Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits”.
This is the cool part – you get to decide. It’s your body, your life, your choice and…it can be very challenging to put firm boundaries in place.
I could not have built my boundaries without support. Last year I was dragging my feet making travel arrangements to Australia to meet relatives for the first time. I was healing from adrenal fatigue, and still very tired, but couldn’t fathom saying “no” and disappointing my Aunt and Uncle. I was worried they would think I was a flake and that they wouldn’t like me.
But, I have my ‘spotter sisters’ – these women are my lifeline, my support group, my accountability for keeping boundaries in place. Once a month we gather and share whatever is up for us. At this gathering, I shared my lack of enthusiasm for the upcoming trip which was met with “why don’t you postpone it?” I responded rather indignantly with “I can’t do that, I’ll disappoint them!” I still remember how I felt when these wise women offered the alternative (delaying my trip) that I had not dared to think – uncomfortable for sure. But with their support, I postponed the trip and went the following year with energy!
The moral to this little story is grab a support buddy. Having someone in your back pocket to call, when you feel yourself wavering can be just the incentive needed to stand firm with your “no”.
Healthy boundaries improve confidence and self-esteem, you become better able to communicate with others, relationships improve and you have more control over your own life and your time.
There you have it – three ways to build your “no” muscles:
#1: Make a list of why you say ‘yes’
#2: Know your core values and use them as your guideline for saying ‘no’ and for saying ‘yes’.
#3: Use “no” more often and keep firm boundaries in place.