Article #4, November 20, 2002
Saying NO! and Setting Boundaries
Are you saying yes when you really want to say NO? Perhaps your boss or someone from another department asks for more than you want to give? Perhaps your kids’ school asks you to volunteer for more than you have time or money to do? Your family? Your friends or neighbors? Is saying yes damaging you? Do you lose sleep, miss meals, and miss out on time with your kids /significant other?
Setting boundaries is not an easy action to take, but well worth the effort. Boundaries are those things you won’t allow others to do to you or around you; they are imaginary lines you draw around yourself. For example, I don’t allow people to hit me. By setting strong boundaries and saying no, you are protecting your physical and emotional health and protecting your time with loved ones.
Boundaries are not standards, which deal with your own behavior, and they are not requirements, which are needs.
If you fear people won’t like you or will be angry or disappointed in you, the reverse is actually true. People will have more respect for you, and as your personal growth accelerates, you’ll be happier and will fear less what others think. On the other hand, when your boundaries are weak, you attract needy, disrespectful people who sap your energy.
How do you set up Boundaries?
- Understand that you need them
- Be willing to educate others on how to respect them
- Be relentless, but not punitive, as you extend boundaries
- Make a list of 10 things people may no longer do around you, do to you or say to you
- Sit down with each person involved and share your process; get their commitment to honoring you
- Demand that every single person in your life is always unconditionally constructive in every single comment to you:
- No more digs
- No make-funs
- No deprecating remarks
- No criticisms
No matter what!!
Examples of Boundaries:
- No obscene language
- No hitting - even children
- No last-minute canceling on plans
- No ignoring me
- No smoking
- No drugs
- No gossiping
- No uncontrollable kids
- No yelling at me
- No sexist/racist jokes
- No new-age music
7. Have and use a 4-step plan of action when someone violates your boundaries:
- Inform them what they are doing
- Request that they stop immediately
- Demand they stop
- Walk away without comment
8. Are you violating others’ boundaries?
9. Reward, congratulate those who are respecting your boundaries
WARNING: Be prepared for the fall-out! There may be people in your life now who will ‘fall out’.
After that great start, make them bigger! Go from “Nobody may hit me” to “Nobody may raise their voice to me”.
Keep at it! Once it becomes automatic, you will begin to feel a whole new respect for yourself, and so will everyone else!