Do you find it hard to say: ‘NO’ to people? Do you find yourself in situations where you end up saying yes when really you mean no? People treat you as you allow them to; however, you can actually teach others how to treat you based on the strength or weakness of your boundaries. These are imaginary lines that help you protect yourself both physically and emotionally. Having boundaries can make an enormous impact on the quality of your health and life. Setting and maintaining boundaries is a skill that you most need to develop in order to create the kind of life you really want. However, it’s often the area where most people seem to have the most difficulties.
Setting boundaries will help you stand up for yourself, stop agreeing to do things you really don’t want to do, and start feeling less guilty about putting your own needs first. It’s a part of the process of defining yourself and what is acceptable to you. When you don’t have boundaries other people will step over the line without even realising where it is.
Identify where you need more space, self-respect, energy, and/or personal power. Begin this process by recognising when you feel angry, frustrated, violated, or resentful. In these cases, you’ve often had a boundary “crossed”. By becoming aware of situations that require you to have stronger limits, you can begin creating and communicating your new boundaries to others. Let others know when they’ve crossed the line, acted inappropriately, or disrespected you in any way. Do not be afraid to tell others when you need emotional and physical space. Allow yourself to be who you really are without pressure from others to be anything else. Know what actions you may need to take if your wishes aren’t respected.
Learn to say no
Most of us are people-pleasers and often put ourselves at a disadvantage by trying to accommodate everyone. We don’t want to be selfish, so we put our personal needs on the back burner. If you don’t get better at saying: ‘no’ then other people’s priorities will take precedence over yours. You will end up frustrated and stressed. You won’t be able to say yes to the most important things.
Some tips to begin are:
- Don’t be apologetic: If people hear firmness in your voice, they’ll accept your decision. If they hear regret, they’ll keep asking. Apologies bring more requests since they think you feel bad about not being able to help.
- Start slowly: It takes time to break the habit of being a people pleaser. Grow your confidence by learning to say no to family, friends, professionals etc. At first it will be hard but the more confident you become the easier it gets.
- Don’t succumb to pressure: People may use guilt to change your mind. Nicely but firmly hold your ground. If someone calls you selfish, point out that it’s selfish to expect you to bend your schedule for their needs, without an angry tone and with a smile. Turn the guilt onto the person making demands.
- Don’t justify: Don’t defend why you can’t do something. Just say you can’t with conviction. Pay attention to how much, or little, other people explain when they say they can’t to you.
- Be firm in saying “no.” Don’t dance around it. “I’d love to help but…” Saying, “I can’t” tells them to ask someone else.
Consistency is crucial in order to send a clear message that a new dynamic is present. Remember that very little will change if you set a boundary and don’t follow it through. You are only responsible for your own feelings and it is important to remember that you cannot please everyone all of the time.
Sinead Kane – The Kane Ability, Motivational Speaker