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Saying no: Do You Know Your Boundaries?
Saying no: Do You Know Your Boundaries?

One of the most important aspects that ought to be noted in our social lives is boundaries. This can be understood as a shield or fence around one’s self. Boundaries are a line, unique to each individual that is subject to change and is set in place for yourself and others.

It is aimed at a healthy separation from others, in a manner of identifying what are reasonable, safe, and permissible ways for others to behave around them. Boundaries are also an established set of limits over your physical and emotional well-being, which you expect others to respect in relation to you and are usually categorized as physical and emotional/mental, with a classification ranging in the quality of strength.

Saying no: Why is it important to set boundaries?

1.) To practice self-care and self-respect.

Healthy boundaries are a crucial component of self-care. That’s because in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to resentment, anger, feelings of anxiousness, and burnout.

2.) To communicate your needs in a relationship.

The consequences of not setting healthy boundaries often include “stress, financial burdens, wasted time, and relationship issues, which can cause mental distress. In other words, a lack of healthy boundaries can negatively affect all aspects of someone’s life.

3.) To make time and space for positive interactions.

4.) To set limits in a relationship in a way that is healthy.

Learning the types of boundaries.

There are several areas where boundaries apply in our personal and social lives (includes but not limited to):

Material boundaries

Determine whether you give or lend things, such as your money, car, clothes, books, food, etc.

Physical boundaries

Pertain to your personal space, privacy, and body. Do you give a handshake or a hug – to whom and when? How do you feel about loud music and locked doors?

Mental boundaries

Apply to your thoughts, values, and opinions. Are you easily suggestible? Do you know what you believe, and can you hold onto your opinions? Can you listen with an open mind to someone else’s opinion without becoming rigid? If you become highly emotional, argumentative, or defensive, you may have weak emotional boundaries.

Emotional boundaries

Distinguish separating your emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s. It is like an imaginary line or force field that separates you and others. Healthy boundaries prevent you from giving advice, blaming, or accepting blame. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems and taking others’ comments personally. High reactivity suggests weak emotional boundaries. Healthy emotional boundaries require clear internal boundaries – knowing your feelings and your responsibilities to yourself and others.

Spiritual boundaries

Relate to your beliefs and experiences in connection with God or a higher power.

Learning how to say “no” is incredibly important in our lives. Saying no helps us maintain healthy boundaries and relationships with others and ourselves and also allows us to be more thoughtful and committed to the things we say yes to. In spite of understanding the benefits of being able to say “no” when needed, many people continue to struggle with actually doing so.

Putting saying NO into practice.

Here are some suggestions to help you master the art of saying “no” that you can put into practice, including an example with each one:

  1. Vague but firm: “Thank you for asking me, but that is not going to work for me.”
  2. Referral/Delegation: “I won’t be able to, but why don’t you ask Joe? I bet he’ll be able to.”
  3. Last Minute Boundary: “I can’t add anything onto my calendar this month, but the next time you’re planning to go ___, let me know as soon as you can because I would love to go with you.”
  4. It is Not Personal: “Thank you for thinking of me, but I am not doing any interviews this quarter while I am focusing on starting my new project.”
  5. Showing Gratitude: “I am so touched that you thought of me and I really appreciate your enthusiasm and support. I’m sorry I won’t be able to help out at this time.”
  6. Gracious: “I truly appreciate your asking, but my time is already committed.”
  7. Know Thyself: “No. But here is what I can do….” (Then limit the commitment to what works for you.)
  8. Time to Assess: “Let me think about it and I will get back to you.”
  9. Give Others a Chance: “You know, I feel like the accounting department is always organizing the office fundraisers/parties. Let’s ask the Marketing Department to help this year.”

The conclusion to setting and knowing your boundaries

As time goes on, your boundaries may require updating. Perhaps the time you can give to others is much more limited after the changing of personal priorities, such as starting a family. As adults, if we really value our well-being an important goal for us should be reevaluating our understanding and application of boundaries, examining our upbringing, and learning to have healthier boundaries.

If you’re having a hard time with knowing your boundaries, seek support, whether that’s is a support group, church, counseling, coaching, or good friends.” With friends or family, you can even make it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together and hold each other accountable.