It’s hard sometimes to know how to say “no” but still be loving in the moment. Setting a boundary often feels challenging when we are trying to stay in a loving place. But sometimes, it’s required. You know when you need to say “no” in your life, but do you actually do it? Here’s a few tips to help you remember how to set and hold your boundaries in loving space.
Start with respecting your own time, energy, and worth. Often times, the reason you need to set a boundary is because someone else isn’t respecting you. When you have this issue, it’s important to respond in a centered fashion – without a triggered charge to the conversation. It is simply a matter of saying “no”. You don’t have to blame them or accuse them of not caring about you. Simply saying “no, I’m not going to do that” is sufficient. If the person wants to know why, they will ask. Then it is up to you if you want to respond.
Don’t Explain Yourself
If you know that you have a hard time holding to your “no”, then don’t explain yourself. Explanations are just ways for other people to negotiate around your “no”. If you tell them why, they may try to talk you out of that why. Once you get better at holding firm in your “no”, you will want to revisit this particular rule since it can hamper good communications, but in the short run, it’s a good way to get people’s attention and let them know that you are no longer a pushover.
Don’t Be Nice – Be Clear
For women especially, we tend to try to smooth things over and make them easier to hear. The problem with this in setting your boundaries is that it makes you sound unsure of your boundary and/or negotiable in it. Be clear about what you’re saying. You don’t have to be mean – in fact a good boundary is entirely neutral – but don’t be so nice that your message gets lost in the delivery. If in doubt, be blunt.
Don’t Take It Personally
Sometimes you will be setting a boundary because someone has crossed your previously set boundary. Having to reinforce your message can be frustrating and triggering, but you actually diminish your effect when you jump up and down and get upset. Simply looking at the person and saying “we discussed this before, I’m not doing this – nothing has changed from my previous answer” is sufficient. If they still don’t listen then I’m fond of the phrase “what part of the word ‘no’ don’t you understand?” Someone who crosses your boundary does so for what may be a number of reasons.
- They don’t believe that you will continue to enforce them – and this is likely because you have trained them to believe this.
- They are so involved in their own perspective that they can’t hear someone else’s.
- They are in a power struggle with you and are intent on winning.
People who cross boundaries do so because they don’t understand them or because they don’t respect themselves or others enough to respect the boundaries set by those people. You don’t have to fix the person or take their lack of respect personally. All you have to do is respect yourself enough to hold firm. You don’t have to get angry with them. You don’t need to correct their behavior. Just hold them in love – at a distance.