How to set healthy boundaries and say 'no'
As expected, this topic stimulated much discussion in our recent Virtual Meet-up session.
Setting healthy boundaries in relationships is important, but setting boundaries can be difficult.
For many, especially those who don't tend to hold the position of power or authority in a relationship, saying 'no' and setting in place our personal boundaries can be quite daunting.
What happens if you say no, and you offend the other person?
What happens if you say no, and there are negative reprecussions on yourself?
Like for many, it is a struggle to set healthy boundaries, but it is necessary to do so. Not only do you show respect for yourself, you demand respect from others. It is also vital to establishing and maintaining your self-esteem!
In our recent Virtual Meet-up, we discussed this topic as a group.
How to set healthy boundaries and say 'no'
We put this topic to women in Australia, US and Canada in our Virtual Meet-up events on 8 June 2022, 7pm AEST and PST.
Women shared their experiences with setting boundaries, challenges they have personally had setting boundaries and advice that has helped them.
Here are five take always from our recent discussion
Takeaway 1: Use phrases like; "unfortunately, that doesn't work for me", to help you set boundaries
Use phrases that communicate your wishes and set your boundaries straight away. In the group discussion, we discussed using the phrase; “unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me” - with no further explanation needed!
That's right. You DON'T need to explain yourself any further!
Say this phrase clearly, with courage and conviction, and see what happens!
Takeaway 2: Know yourself and your limits
Knowing yourself and your limits; what you believe in, your weeknesses and strengths, skills and capabilities, is important when setting boundaries.
How far are you willing to go with something that isn't sitting right with you?
How long are you going to stay silent on a matter that is important to you?
How long will you try to wear fake-eyelashes when you know you will never learn to put them on properly?
That's something we had a laugh about - our continous struggle to put on fake eye-lashes! At some point you just stop wearing them, because they are difficult to wear. You either seek help or don't wear them at all.
You can only decide this, when you know yourself and your limits.
Takeaway 3: Boundaries can be enforced physically through bodylanguage and hand gestures
Using body language and hand gestures can be helpful in putting in place physical boundaries.
One such scenario we talked about was when someone is invading your personal space. We discussed the simple power of stretching out your arms in front of your body, with your palms faced outwards, like you would when you are signalling someone to stop.
Not only does this immediately put a distance between you and the other person, this action also enforces a physical boundary to the other person that shouldn't be crossed.
Takeaway 4: Don't feel guilty when you say 'no'
Let's face it, sometimes we are just too nice and like to give others the benefit of the doubt. While it is important to be understanding and empathetic to others, it is equally important to say 'no' when you feel like what they are expecting from you is more than what you want to give.
Sometimes we lack boundaries because we care more about others than ourselves, we don’t want them to feel bad, and we might feel guilty. But this might lead people to take advantage of you, without you realising.
As we discussed in the group, setting healthy boundaries isn't a bad thing and shouldn't be seen as negative.
Perhaps when you say 'no', the other person might not know it yet, but you are helping them in the long-run.
Takeaway 5: Avoid situations and environments where you feel your boundaries might be comprimised
We might not know what the future holds, but we do know deep inside within our hearts what situations and environments make us feel uncomfortable and where we might struggle to enforce our boundaries.
This was mostly discussed in the context of dating and the scenario where a guy might want to "take you home" after being on a date. Sure, he can be a gentleman and walk you home to the front door, but it's your decision if you let him in the door or not. If you think he might cross your boundaries or make you comprimise yours, don't let him in.
Knowing this, we can avoid situations before they happen and we are faced with a situation that might compromise our boundaries.
It was such a pleasure to meet and see all the amazing and inspiring ladies who could attend this Virtual Meet-up!
A big thank- you to our Co-host for Canada/US Jackie @the_real_diy who volunteers her time for this. Please follow Jackie on her social media to support her and her women empowerment projects!