Have you ever caught yourself stuck in a situation you didn’t want to be in? You defied that intuitive feeling that told you “nah sis, I don’t want to do this,” yet there you are trying your best not to think about an escape plan while engaging in an uninteresting (and unimportant) conversation. Or thinking about how you could’ve saved your coins had you just said no! If you are anything like me, a natural nurturer and giver, saying no is innately a difficult thing to do. I learned a while ago that when I am asked to do something I don’t necessarily want to do, I’m inclined to say yes despite the fact that my intuition and my body are screaming “NO” at the top of their lungs. Why is it so hard to say no?
Boundaries, that is why. Repeat after me, boundaries. Uncovering what your boundaries are means understanding exactly what it is you want. Often times I worry about offending someone and neglect the physical and mental reaction that my body is giving me. Disregarding my own feelings makes me more disappointed in myself when I end up in a situation that I know I should not be in. In the situation I’m constantly wondering why I’m there, wishing I was in my bed instead. This is where self awareness takes place. Why is that I put others before myself? Why do I consider the other person’s wants and needs quicker than my own? Why am I willing to inconvenience myself for someone else?
My problem with saying no and lack of boundaries begins with my inability to say no to the most important people in my life: my family. Building the courage to say no to them was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. I was torn between feeling guilt, and fearful of what the outcome would be. It was when I realized my self doubt, self hatred, and lack of confidence came from their verbal abuse. Their doubt and negativity was a drug, and I was succumbing to it in every way. I was drowning in their fears and I knew it was time to say no when I started living in them. Their doubt in my capabilities made me question every aspect of my life. I began questioning myself more than ever and thus came the dreadful insecurities that I am still fighting off today. So, how do you say no to family?
Truth is you don’t. What you do is model and only allow behavior that you deserve. This may take some time, especially if you’ve developed an unhealthy idea of how you should be treated. Knowing and understanding your boundaries means you have to discover and explore what it is that brings you peace. That does not mean agreeing to something you don’t agree with in order to maintain that peace. That is a prime example of not loving yourself. You are choosing someone else’s comfortability over your own. Modeling and only allowing behavior you know you deserve can be difficult. If you are anything like me, stubborn and ready to vocalize herself, it takes a lot of willpower to not engage in argumentative dialogue with people who refuse to understand you.
What I learned was to express myself as directly and precise as I could. While I was ready to express and vocalize my emotions, I learned that not everyone has the same capacity. There were many moments where I felt defeated and hopeless. My family was not willing to understand the pain they were causing me.
Eventually, I walked away from anything and anyone who was unwilling to meet me halfway. I walked away from people who were not willing to be self aware and accountable for themselves, even family. More importantly, I recognized that I won’t always get the apology I know I deserve. I have learned to be okay with that. Their actions and lack of effort to better understand my emotions is loud enough.
What people’s reaction may be when you say no is not for you to control. Worry about how you are at risk of losing yourself if you don’t say no. Codependency has the potential to make you want to give more than you should. Do not let lack of boundaries be the reason you cannot trust yourself and your intuition. Do not let codependency keep you from eliminating people who drain your energy while making you feel responsible for theirs. Prioritizing yourself. Set those boundaries fearlessly. It will teach people how to treat you. Trust me, once you acknowledge your emotions it empowers you to be in control and aware of yourself.
Conquering the fear of saying no to family, acquaintances, friends, and relationships does indeed get easier. I’m not saying this will always be easy. What I mean is that eventually it will be second nature to choose yourself over anyone else.
Perhaps the most important thing I have learned about myself in my journey of saying no is knowing when I need to say no to myself. No, I will no longer allow family to get me out of my character. No, I will not allow half assed apologies without changed behavior. No, I am not responsible for someone else’s feelings. No, I do not have time for individuals who are not reciprocating the same effort and energy I give.
One more thing: Always remember you are deserving of the love you put out. So why not give it to yourself?