Personal boundaries: You can say "no"
by Jayoti Chabra, LMSW
Personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. A person with healthy boundaries can say “no” to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships.
A lot of people have difficulties creating boundaries, at home, work, and/or in their social life. I know I do and I’m working on it. It's hard saying no to the mother-in-law that wants to help in your kitchen and you don’t want them to, or to the friend who shows up when you just wanted a day for yourself. It can make you feel like you have to choose between disappointing someone else or disappointing yourself.
I have learned that it’s about the tone; being respectful but steady, acknowledging your needs, and finding a way to compromise, if possible, without feeling taken advantage of. The key is to prioritize what you want without disrespecting the other person’s needs. It is also about acknowledging that you can’t help everyone or make everyone happy.
One thing that has helped me is to be clear and unambiguous and what I am comfortable with. It can be hard at the beginning, and it will take time for other people to get used to me asserting myself, but I know how important it is. I’m slowly realizing that it's okay to say "no.” In addition, I work on creating boundaries at the start of any new relationship. This helps to maintain a better, stronger, and mutually respected relationship.
It’s helpful to realize that saying “no” to others is also saying “yes” to myself!
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