"No" is a complete sentence.
For 2018, one of my resolutions has been to work on setting healthy boundaries and saying no more comfortably. The holiday season tends to offer plenty of opportunities to practise this. There are expectations from society at large, from family and partners and then there are our own wishes and needs. Here are some of the things I learned throughout the year:
I am more of a people-pleaser than I thought.
I can be stubborn and strong-willed. When I am sure of myself, I fight for what I want and/or think is right. Many a times, this creates conflict. And those experiences led me to believe that I am the opposite of a push-over and indeed very good at standing up for myself.
And that is true. In some situations. But it’s not the case in others.
I realized that I can be both and not just one or the other. While acknowledging my people-pleasing ways has not exactly been a celebration for me, saying both ways I feel reassured that I CAN do it, I just need to choose to also do it in situations that I perceive as more challenging and where maybe it doesn't come naturally.
What do I actually want?
So obvious, right? And for some reason, I sometimes struggle to differentiate between what I want, what I think I should want and what others want from/for me. Untangling this is the first step to be able to decide where my boundaries lie.
Be clear but don’t feel the need to explain yourself.
Once I know what I want, I then tend to waste my time on coming up with all sorts of scenarios of how whoever is involved in the situation will react. I look for ways to justify my decisions.
None of that is real, of course. Nor does it matter. I need to be clear. And that’s it. I don’t have to explain myself, nor do I have to make others understand or approve. Nor must I expect others to just know where my boundaries lie. It’s MY job to communicate my boundaries and to reiterate them when they get overstepped.
I am only responsible for myself.
Inevitably there will be times when others will dislike my decisions. I am not responsible for how they feel. I am responsible for being nice and kind when delivering my “no”, or whatever form the boundary takes. And I need to be prepared to accept whatever decision others might take as a consequence. But I am not responsible for making other people happy.
Old habits die hard and it gets easier.
I am not yet “done” with my transformation and my resolution remains the same for 2019. But it does get easier. Easier to catch myself when I am going against my own needs and easier to step into possible discomfort. And it pays off. Living in alignment with my values and needs feels so much better! Nonetheless - at least for me - it's an ongoing process. And how wonderful that life keeps offering me opportunities to practise ;-)
Setting boundaries is not selfish but an important form of self-care.
Just in case you needed any more justification why it’s ok to say no. Your needs are just as important as everyone else's.
I am wishing you a wonderful holiday season and that you spend it exactly the way you want to!