It’s okay to say no. No is not from the devil, and ‘no’ is not something evil that was spawned from the depths of hell.
The word ‘no’ is actually something that will save your life, your self love (not talking about ego here or vanity) and your integrity. I know a few people that can’t say no, they feel like they need to excuse themselves for saying no, that they have just committed the biggest sin by saying no. That in turn sends a message to everyone around you that you’re excusing yourself for being alive…do you know what that then does to your personal and professional relationships and do you know the health impacts?
It creates a unhealthy space where people can walk over you, and do and say to you whatever the hell they want to say/do to you. They bulldoze you and you in the end feel resentment and become more and more unhappy and miserable. Health wise, it impacts your mental state which then impacts your body and physical health, mostly leaving you drained and exhausted and completely stressed out.
NO you don’t have to keep everyone happy by doing everything they want you to do, NOR do you have to volunteer out of your own to go mow their lawn or to buy them something. (See what I did there? I said the word ‘NO’.)
By saying no, regularly — you are setting boundaries to not be abused. I should know — I used to be one of those who thought that I had to do everything for people because I had to prove that I deserved to be alive. YIKES! Messed up right? Yeah. Now the word ‘no’ is an accessory I don’t leave the house without. And you will learn to wear your ‘no’ like a fancy diamond ring or a piece of some statement jewelry. Now note, I’m not talking about you saying no to everything — use your emotions and your healthy mind as a guide here, use discernment.
These days knowing where boundaries are is so important. It’s the difference between someone taking advantage of you and you being happy. It’s important to implement and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships. Think of boundaries as invisible lines you draw around your feelings, wants, and needs in a relationship. Those limits delineate where your feelings and emotions end and your friend’s or partner’s feelings begin.
It’s amazing that we’ve created this world where it’s not okay to say no — our boss will fire us if we say no, our spouse will be angry when we say no, my child will throw a tantrum when I say no. Goodness, no wonder we are miserable and no wonder we are so neurotic. It’s okay to be selfish within healthy reasonable boundaries. It’s in fact not being selfish, but rather taking care of you. You CANNOT pour from a empty cup. If you keep giving and giving and giving and giving and being walked over, you will feel abused and resentment will grow.
The end result will be close to that of a child throwing a full on tantrum in a shopping center and worse.
Healthy boundaries ensure that each of you are equally entitled to experience and express your own feelings in the relationship. When good boundaries exist, there’s no fear of reprisal in openly and honestly expressing genuine feelings to the other. Regardless of the nature of the relationship — friendship or love — keeping healthy boundaries can only deepen the connection between people.
Case Scenario: An Illustration of How Boundaries Develop in a New Relationship
Jenny is newly single and had a date last week with Jo. She enjoyed his company. Jo said he’d call Jenny in a week. The week went by with no call.
A few days later, there’s a knock at Jenny’s door. It’s Jo. He wants to come in. Jenny detects a light odor of alcohol, which only multiplies the discomfort she feels about his surprise visit.
Jenny doesn’t know Jo very well and would prefer he not come in. What does Jenny do? What would you do?
- Tina tells him a “story” about how her parents are expecting her any minute and she has to leave now. Therefore, he can’t come in, so he leaves abruptly.
- She lets him in.
- She hesitates at first, but he convinces her to let him come in.
- She informs him that she’s uncomfortable with his unannounced visit and isn’t going to let him in. Jenny uses a non-threatening tone and tells him she hopes he understands. He’s disappointed but agrees to leave and says he’ll call Tina tomorrow.
Choice A doesn’t demonstrate healthy boundaries. Why? Because Jenny felt uncomfortable and her preference was that Jo not come in. However, Jenny ignored her feelings and accepted what Jo wanted instead.
Choice B also illustrates less-than-healthy boundaries. With B, Jenny’s in about the same situation as A. In essence, Jenny noticed her own feelings (represented by her brief hesitance). Ultimately, she didn’t make her decision based on them. Instead, she allowed another person — Jo — to “step on” her boundary and convince her to behave as he wanted.
Choosing C shows Jenny was at least able to respect her own feelings of not wanting Jo to enter her home. Jenny’s boundaries could be stronger but at least, she ultimately didn’t let him in.
Choice D demonstrates firm and healthy boundaries. Jenny was open and honest about how she felt and confident about her feelings and decision not to invite Jo inside.
This example illustrates what can happen at the beginning of a relationship if poor boundaries exist. Choices A or B early on set an unclear boundary and thus adversely affect the life of the relationship if not addressed. In essence, how you demonstrate (or don’t demonstrate) your emotional boundaries will determine if and how a relationship progresses.
On the other hand, responding with Choices C or D shows healthier boundaries. Those choices show you acknowledge and act on your own feelings, even though doing so could make the other person a little uncomfortable or even angry. When you validate your own feelings and the other’s as well, you can experience an honest, respectful relationship.
Examine Boundaries in Your Relationships
Take a moment to think about boundaries you have in your relationships.
- Do you tend to ignore your own feelings and go along with whatever the other person wants?
- Can you speak up about your feelings?
- Do you appropriately state when something will not “work” for you?
- Do you ask for what you need in a relationship and obey your own internal limits?
Keeping healthy boundaries in relationships is a positive step toward discovering the fulfilling relationships you want. Focus on making choices in relationships based on your genuine feelings. Doing so will bring you the passionate, sharing and caring relationships you seek.
To your Love, Success and Happiness