Over the past years, one thing that stood out in my life, and the lives of all the people I met is our inability to say NO without the guilt. Setting boundaries and learning to say NO is critical for our psychological, psychical, and emotional well-being. Yet, most of us cringe at the thought of saying NO and continue to say YES to things that drain us from our energy.
I used to be a mastermind at this. I said YES to everything I did not like, everything that was not important, and people who really did not deserve my time.
Yet I was given it away freely.
Why? Had stupidity taken over?
I do consider myself intelligent, so why did I keep saying YES when deep down I knew I had to say NO?
Many of us struggle with this for various reasons. But at the heart of all your YESSES to things that don’t matter comes from one dominant belief:
The reason you say YES is that you don’t know WHY you should say NO.
When we say YES to someone or something, we say NO to ourselves. We say NO to time and energy that can be spent on things that matter to us. And that’s when things go awry – because what is our vision?
What is our purpose?
What are we supposed to be doing beyond making money, paying bills, taking care of mundane things in our lives?
These are questions that the confinement period due to COVID-2019 has surfaced for many as self-reflection became evident.
These are my three principles to help you learn and practice to say NO more often and set boundaries. Ready? Let’s go!
How many of you live consciously? By that, I mean how much of the time are you present with people, with activities or with yourself? For example, are you one of those people that are looking for their phones and keys in all places while holding them in your hand?
At times, I am still one of those when I fail to calm down my monkey mind and be present in the moment. My awareness gets lost in all the mind’s distractions.
Let’s define awareness first. Awareness is your ability to give your full and undivided attention to something or someone. Your consciousness is different from your mind. And that’s precisely the problem – our monkey mind is constantly distracted and triggered by outside stimuli. The overload of information is overwhelming, and distractions in every area of our lives prevail.
Not all is doom and gloom because practice makes perfect!
Practice every day and commit to focusing on ONE THING that day with your full divided attention. Set an intention that you will be fully present and engaged with your ONE THING or ONE PERSON.
How can this help with boundaries setting?
When you practice your awareness of being in the flow of connectedness with your body, mind, and soul – trust me, your NO will become a whole lot easier!
An energy vampire is somebody who literally zaps your energy dry,” according to Judith Orloff, MD.
We all are dealing with multiple energy vampires in our lives. They can be family, friends, or colleagues. And if you are the lucky lottery winner, you are dealing with all three at the same time.
Setting boundaries with energy vampires is critical for your sanity. Your energy is finite, you only have so much that you need to use for feeling good. For performing at work and beyond. For feeling on top of the world with positive energy!
Energy vampires suck the life out of you because you allow them too.
So how do we stop this? Simple, don’t engage with them or feed their negative energy!
We say, see you soon when we don’t really mean it. So don’t say this and instead be frank with kindness: “Enjoy the rest of your day, I have to run now. Goodbye”.
You are kind.
You are frank.
And you mean them well. When you wish people well, it is challenging to feel negative emotions.
Another example is when you are dealing with an energy vampire; don’t ask them how they are doing – you do not want to know! Instead, refer to the weather or something completely unrelated that does not require engaging them.
Finally, when someone asks your time to pick your brains, ask them to do something first if they want your time. Ask them to write one page with their desired outcomes or summarize your favorite book on the topic they want to “pick your brains about.” Most likely, no one will ever make the investment in you before you make it in them. But if you meet someone who does, go out of your way to meet and make time for them.
Use your creativity with kindness and come up with ways to focus on protecting your energy. The energy you can use for better and higher things that make YOU feel good.
Knowing your purpose and calling is a big thing, and many people don’t even find out their WHY or PURPOSE later in their thirties or forties. Yet, knowing where you are going and why you are doing what you are doing is a prerequisite for setting boundaries.
How can you say NO to something or someone when you don’t know what to say YES for yourself?
A straightforward way that does not require soul searching journeys is waking up with an intention for the day. What are you going to do that day that matters?
Pick ONE THING.
Even if you say YES to other things, those things cannot interfere with your ONE THING for the day.
At the end of the day, before you go to bed, notice how you feel.
Notice how the feelings of fulfillment and accomplishment feel. Take a few minutes to revel in those feelings before you drift off to sleep.
Do this often enough, and soon you will learn to feel the impact of your NO on your well-being. You will understand what behaviors, actions, things, and people make you feel more positive emotions than negative ones.
You will learn to reflect and discover what lights you up inside and do more of that as your energy is shifting.