• Fahima H.

Learning how to say "no" and setting healthy boundaries.

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Do you have a hard time saying no? Are you always putting your needs in the back burner because you are afraid of how others will perceive you? If you answered yes, do not worry you can change and you can learn to say “no” and create boundaries so that you are not burned out. I had a very hard time saying “no” I felt guilty, as if I did something wrong. A lot of the time I would say yes, when I was not in a position to do so. I was stretching myself too thin and I would put my own needs and wants in the back burner. I know I am not alone in this because a lot of people including some of my clients have a hard time saying no and as a result they jeopardize their comfort and bring on unnecessary stress to themselves. Many people relate saying no to being confrontational and in order to avoid confrontation they say yes. They feel that they have to say yes because they don’t want to be rude, they care so much about what others think of them. They want to be loved and don’t want to let anyone down. However saying “no” does not have to be confrontational, you just have to explain that although you wish you can help them that at the moment you are not in a position to do so. You have to realize that saying no is okay; sometimes it’s necessary and needed for your own mental well being. You have got to keep in mind that whenever you say yes to others, you are saying no to yourself by choosing the happiness and comfort of others over your own. Saying no does not make you a bad person, it means that you are respecting yourself and putting your own well being first and that is needed and necessary. Those that love you will understand and respect your boundaries. However this does not mean you have to be selfish and not help others when they are in need, it just means being able to say “no” when you are not in the position to do so.

There are a lot of people that are overly stressed, burnt out and miserable because they do not know how to say “no” and create boundaries. They have this need to please and they do not want to let others down. Every time they say “no” when they are in no position to say yes, they end up creating this unnecessary turmoil and stress. However what you have to realize is that you have created this dialogue in your head that saying “no” would lead to a confrontation. A lot of people have this belief that by saying say “no” that they will be letting others down, that others will perceive them in a negative way. They so desperately want to hold onto being loved by others that they say “yes” even if it brings them harm. You have to ask yourself how you came to have this belief and is this belief serving you in a positive or negative way. You need to change this self limiting belief, by questioning it and deconstructing it. You have to realize that the belief you hold and your reality is very different. The reality is that those that love you will be supportive of you and they will understand and will not react the way that you have imagined them to. Those that guilt trip you into saying yes or get confrontational with you are just users and manipulators. The ones that guilt you into saying yes and will not take no for an answer are the ones that you need to create boundaries with the most. You have to realize that people that have a hard time taking “no” as the answer are going to take advantage of you in order to get their way. They will say and do whatever is necessary to get what they want. That is why it is crucial that you do not allow them to take advantage of you and you create strong boundaries. You have to be firm in your “no” and do not allow them to guilt you into saying “yes” because you will end up regretting this later on. You have to be direct, tell them I can not do this and stick with it. Set limits with them and tell them exactly how you feel and for them to respect your boundaries, you can do this in an assertive and nice way. You have to give yourself permission to set boundaries and know that it is okay to say “no” when you are unable to do it.

You have got to ask yourself this before you say yes to something, “is saying yes going to make me neglect my priorities? By saying yes, will it bring stress into my life and affect my mental well being? Is saying yes going to make me feel uncomfortable, am I saying yes to something I disagree with or rather not be involved with? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have to say “no”. If others make you feel guilty for saying no or try to manipulate you into saying yes, they are taking advantage of you and are selfishly thinking about themselves and dismissing your feelings and needs. Saying no is a form of self love and self care. We are trained to place others needs above our own, let’s remember that our needs and boundaries are just as important. Creating boundaries and saying no enables you to take your power back. Always remember to take small steps to doing this; it takes time and a lot of practice. At first it might be extremely difficult to do but once you start doing it, you will get more comfortable with it. Always remember that setting boundaries is good for your mental health and will alleviate unwanted stress.

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