Do you have a hard time saying no to others when you want to? If so, this inability to take a stand for your own needs and desires might also show up as holding onto commitments for too long. In your heart, you know you no longer want to do an activity, but you continue because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
Some women hate the word boundary. It conjures up feelings of being controlled and of being rigid and uncaring about people. This is probably because they’ve had someone set a “boundary” with them in a way they interpreted as mean or hateful.
What if you define boundaries differently though? What if a boundary is simply a means to communicate your needs and desires in such a way that honors you and the other person? In other words, a healthy boundary blesses both of you.
In this blog, I explain why boundaries aren’t selfish or self-seeking. Instead, healthy boundaries require courage and respect of yourself and others. Therefore, there is no need to feel guilty…at all. You are serving others when you authentically “do you.”
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What is a Boundary?
A boundary is a means to communicate your needs and desires in such a way that honors you and the other person.
In and of itself, a boundary defined this way is neutral, and so you must dive deeper. What makes asking for your needs and wants to be met so scary? Do you remember the last time you did, and it didn’t turn out so well? Think back to your earliest memory of asking for something and being told no.
Why Did You Stop Asking for What You Want/Need?
Keep in mind that I often got what I asked for from my mom, but on that particular day, when I REALLY wanted a special toy, I was told no. It must be significant since the memory surfaced. The feeling I had as a kid was one of denial, disappointment and powerlessness.
Did I stop asking for more stuff going forward? No. But I suspect it was at that time that I formed this belief: “I can ask for what I want, but there is a good chance my request will be denied.”
You might argue that getting a Barbie toy is not a direct need, and you’d be right. However, the point here is how I interpreted my reality as a child. If I asked for what I wanted/needed, and then felt rejected, there are many ways I (a child) could make this mean it’s not safe to ask for my needs to be met.
Suffice it to say, if you have a hard time asking for your needs to be met, somewhere along the way, you learned it was unsafe and you’d most likely be told no. So you stopped asking.
Why Consider Boundaries?
Do you believe that relationships are foundational to a healthy, happy life? They are. A Harvard study showed that Happiness = Happy Relationships. Full Stop..
To have a happy relationship, you need to let someone know who you are, to feel safe in their presence. It calms your nervous system to know you can authentically express yourself, and this person won’t deny or reject you.
Since I’m defining a boundary as knowing how to communicate your wants and needs, it is vital you speak your truth. If you don’t consistently tell your partner (child, parent, friend, etc.) what’s really going on for you, it will harm the relationship.
Expecting others to read your mind and guess what you want and need is unfair to both of you. It’s like building a home on sand instead of a brick foundation. If you leave the fulfillment of your needs up to how well your partner can “read” you, the relationship will be constantly shifting on unsteady ground.
TIP: Find the courage to express yourself. Reframe your belief that it is not safe to ask for what you want and need.
Change Your Limiting Belief
You have to change your beliefs around what makes asking for your needs/wants so scary. You can apply Emotional Freedom Techniques or tapping to rewire your beliefs. If you can identify a memory where you first learned it wasn’t safe to ask for your needs, all the better.
Let’s use my example as a child to illustrate:
“Even though it’s not safe to ask for what I want, I love and accept myself. Even though my mom wouldn’t let me get a Barbie toy when I was young, and I felt denied, disappointed and powerless, I love and accept myself. Even though it seems selfish to ask for my wants to be met, I love and accept myself anyway.”
Tap through all of the points, stating a reminder phrase such as below. Repeat if you feel it necessary until the belief feels less true and the memory less intense.
Eyebrow: It’s not safe to ask for what I want.
Side of eye: My mom wouldn’t let me get a Barbie toy.
Under eye: I felt denied.
Under nose: I felt disappointed and powerless.
Chin: Maybe I shouldn’t ask for things.
Collarbone: Isn’t it selfish to ask for my needs/wants to be met?
Under arm: What if it’s OK to ask?
Top of head: That was a long time ago. I’m an adult now.
Wrist: I am safe at this moment. I can relax and trust that it’s safe to ask for my needs to be met.
This belief will begin to subside, and instead, you will believe that it’s safe to honestly communicate what you want. Of course, it might be more complex than this. There are often many aspects to comprise a belief.
Say No Without Guilt
You aren’t doing anything against the other person by saying NO and getting your needs met. You aren’t taking away anything. At first you may think, “Yes I am. I’m denying them what they want, just the way your mom did with the Barbie toy.”
Let’s follow this line of thinking. Let’s assume you tell someone yes even though you really want to say no. You’ve been taught to always give, that it’s the Godly and kind thing to do.
Giving IS wonderful, WHEN you do it from a place of truly wanting to give. But if you’re tired and over-extended to begin with and really want to say no, then this brand of giving will set up resentment within you.
Further down the road, when you go to fulfill the request made of you, you won’t be giving it your all. You probably won’t be present in the moment and engaged in what you’re doing. How is that being of service?
You will do the person a favor by being honest about how you feel. World order and peace is not all of your responsibility.
Setting boundaries is learning the skill of communicating your needs so that it benefits YOU and the other person. However, because you grew up with certain beliefs that made it feel unsafe to get your needs met in a healthy way, you learned it was scary and selfish to ask for what you want/need.
To say no without guilt requires you to change the underlying beliefs that make it difficult to ask for what you want/need.
It is healthy for your body, your nervous system and your overall health to set boundaries that bless you and say no without guilt. It helps calm you so that when you do say yes, you’ll be more fully present and engaged in whatever you’re doing. You’ll be able to provide much higher quality service to others if you’re not dragged down with resentment and stretched thin.
Try Emotional Freedom Techniques (a/k/a EFT or tapping) to help shift your beliefs and empower you to get your needs met in a healthy way.
I can help you do this too. Apply now for one of my few spots available for private coaching. Schedule a free chat with me to discover how to set boundaries that bless you.