As a yes-woman myself, I know it can be hard to learn how to say no and set healthy boundaries with people. It’s something that I’ve had to practice extensively both in therapy and on my own. Even though personal boundaries can be challenging to navigate, establishing and communicating them is essential for our own well-being and safety. Here are some steps you can take to start being able to trust your instinct, choose yourself, and get the respect you deserve.
Know where you stand.
Before you can set proper boundaries for yourself, you need to know what your needs and values are. Make a list of what makes you feel happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable. Think about your desires, your standards, and your morals and consider the things that may cross in the path to attaining them. When you’ve established where you stand, it’ll become easier to make decisions that properly align with your values.
Tune into your feelings.
Our intuition is correct more often than not, so tune in to how you’re feeling when a situation arises that you need to set a boundary for. If something is making you uneasy or anxious, it’s important to honor that emotion and know that it’s communicating a message to you. Trust that your gut will point you in the right direction.
Make it short and direct.
It’s highly important to be clear in your communication when asserting your boundaries. However, there’s no need to over-explain yourself. Stay honest and direct with it. While you may be afraid of your intentions being taken the wrong way, the message will be much more well-received if you keep it short and sweet.
Give yourself permission.
One of the hardest feelings that comes up when setting boundaries is guilt. You may feel like you’re letting someone down or you’re making a wrong decision. Remember that the most important person in this equation is you. Before you start setting boundaries, verbally give yourself permission to say no and make the choices that are best for you.
Think about the real, lasting impact of your actions.
Will someone get hurt as a result of this boundary? Usually, the answer is no. Consider if setting this boundary will really have a lasting impact and what that impact may be. You’ll want to think about the logical and real-life influence that something will actually have on both you and others. Remember the standards that you set and do what will ultimately be best for you in the long run. It can help to make a pros and cons list.
Protect your energy.
Being a yes-woman is draining, and that’s because you’re exerting your energy into things that don’t serve your best purpose. Once you’ve built your own personal and emotional space, it’s important to remember that this space is sacred. It’s yours and it needs to be preserved for the things that will best help yourself (and in turn, others). When your energy is being used in the healthiest and most productive ways, you’ll feel contented in how you’re coasting through life and you’ll ultimately feel more at peace.
Ask yourself questions that may have difficult answers.
Does this make you feel good, and why? Is this good for you, and why? Can you emotionally handle this? Do you feel mentally prepared for this? Are you straying from something that you need to reign back in? What part of you is impacted by this? Is there something that still needs work before you can say yes to this?
Stay authentic to yourself.
People-pleasing hides the real you. There’s a fine line between being a good person and trying to make people think you’re a good person. Your true character will shine regardless of whether or not you do everything that someone asks you to do. It can be hard to stick up for yourself when you don’t agree with someone, but staying true to yourself is always best practice.
Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Despite your fear of saying no, healthy boundaries actually IMPROVE your relationships. If you don’t take time to nurture yourself, you’re unable to show up as your best self for others. Boundaries create healthier relationships for both parties and will do wonders for your self-esteem.
Offer an alternative.
If you’re really having difficulties with a boundary, it can be helpful to both parties if you are able to offer an alternative. Think of some scenarios in your head where you can practice this. “I’m unable to help you move into your new apartment today, but I would love to help you decorate when my time frees up,” for example.
Defining and asserting your boundaries can be even trickier if you or a loved one lives will mental illness or a history of trauma. If you’re experiencing challenges will setting boundaries, or if someone is causing you difficulty by crossing them, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or other support group.
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