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About boundaries and saying no

This Monday I posted a card on Instagram (@samulamescher) about boundaries as inspiration for the week ahead.

Knowing your boundaries and setting and maintaining boundaries are crucial for you making the impact you want to make and crucial for you feeling energized and balanced!

But we often struggle with our boundaries.

Not feeling our boundaries anymore
Sometimes we are so used to ignoring our boundaries that we cannot feel our own boundaries anymore.

Sometimes it is difficult to know what our boundaries are because we are so used to living up to all sorts of external expectations that we have lost touch with our own wants and needs.

Finding time for stillness and silence helps you to connect with your own wants and needs and helps you to feel your own boundaries again. So build in a few minutes of stillness every day. This could be just sitting in silence with your cup of coffee/tea, no phone, nothing to read. Or do one of the short mindfullness exercises I sent you last week.

Saying no is just so difficult
Sometimes we do feel what our boundaries are. But we struggle with setting or maintaining healthy boundaries because saying no is just so difficult.

Saying no to people or opportunities often comes with uncomfortable emotions such as fear or guilt. And if you really like to help other people or are really concerned what other people might think of you, then saying no is even more difficult.

We often think that saying yes, is easier - less hassle and less uncomfortable emotions. We often say yes to something that actually should be a no, to avoid a peak in uncomfortable emotions. And we think it is better for the other party as well, because hey… after all you are helping them out!

But here’s the thing….  saying yes is NOT easier and is NOT better for the other party

Let me share a story of a friend of mine who is also an entrepreneur. She got an invitation from another entrepreneur she did not know to meet for a cup of coffee and talk about possibly working together. My friend’s initial reaction was- no I am not interested and no I don’t have time for this. But that is not what she said. Her internal critic started talking to her, all kinds of thoughts came by. And she told me: “I was afraid she would think I was a bitch, if I said no”. And she also thought: “Well what’s a cup of coffee, how much time is that? It is not worth the hassle of saying no. That’s more difficult. So I just said yes to get it over with. “ She ended up saying yes to something she didn’t want to do and didn’t have time for.  They agreed to meet for a cup of coffee and that they would meet somewhere in the middle of where they both lived. After they agreed on a date, it turned out this other person lived at the other end of the country. So meeting for a cup of coffee would take my friend half a day, instead of an hour.

Why saying yes is NOT easier
When I talked to my friend, it was already a couple of weeks ago she had made the appointment. The coffee would take place the week after we talked. During all those weeks, thoughts about this appointment came popping up all the time- everytime accompanied by unpleasant feelings, because she actually did not want to go. So she thought about it a lot, it took up a lot of bandwidth in her mind and emotionally as well. This also caused her to lose a lot of energy.

When you say yes to something that should be a no, it takes up a lot of bandwidth. Not at the moment of saying yes, but the period after you have said yes. It causes you to lose a lot of energy. My friend said yes to avoid the difficult peak in emotions she expected if she were to say no. Her saying yes indeed helped her to avoid this peak in emotions. But she ended up with a lot of uncomfortable emotions in the days and weeks that followed.

If you would spread out the peak of emotions she was avoiding over the weeks and compare it to the emotions she felt after having said yes…. You would see that actually that the emotions of saying no were far less energy draining and emotionally uncomfortable than her saying yes.  Because saying yes kept on asking bandwidth, occupied her thoughts and emotions so often and for such a long time.

So we often think that saying yes is easier. But this is actually only easier in the very short run. In the longer run it is not easier. It causes more difficulties!

Why saying yes is NOT better for the other party
When I put down the phone with my friend, I thought about the favour I wanted to ask my friend. Something that was really important for me, but would also ask a lot of my friend’s time. Based on this conversation with her, I was really hesitant to ask her. Why is that? Because I could not be sure that if she said yes to my request, it really was a yes. That she really had time for it and really wanted to do it. And that it would not cause problems for her. I just could not be sure that her yes would be a real yes.

When you often say yes to things that should be a no, you run a big risk that you to later have to say…. “I am so sorry but I haven’t had time to do it yet.” Then the other party has to find a different solution really quickly. Which is not helpful at all!  Or you make sure you do it on time but in the process ask far too much of yourself and end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed and you overexert yourself.  Or you do, it but feel angry and grumpy because you did not want to do it in the first place. Which mostly is not what the other party would want! Not for you, but also because the quality of your work often suffers because of this.

This way you are not a reliable partner for the other person. If I had known that my friend was really good at saying no and would honestly tell me if she couldn’t do it, I would have happily asked her to help me.

The morale of this story is that it is not better for the other party if you say yes to something that is a no. It only appears to be better in the very short run, but causes much more problems in the longer run. It is much better to be clear about what is a yes or what is a no. Because this makes you a reliable partner.

Please remember this the next time you have to choose between saying yes and no. Give yourself permission to be clear about your boundaries!

Where can you set a boundary this week to give yourself space, time and joy? 

What boundary needs to be in place for you to say YES to yourself?

If you want to better feel your boundaries and know what to say yes to and what to say no to…. Finding silence and stillness is really crucial. To really connect with what is going on inside of you, with your body and emotions. Giving yourself the gift of silence & stillness helps you to get past the chatter in your head, to feel your body and allows you to connect with your intuition.

If you want to do this with the support of me and a group then join the pilot I starts NEXT WEEK, on September 26. Every 3 weeks a live online session: Beyond the chatter in your head, connect with your intuition. See last week’s inspiration mail for more information! 

If you want to join or have any questions-  just send me an email! 

Wishing you a beautiful day!



P.SDid I give you food for thought? Did I give you a different or new perspective? Do you want more inspiration about how to experience more joy and energy in your work and private life? Or on how you can feel balanced without sacrificing your ambitions? Sign up for my inspiration mail here. It is free. 

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