Learning How to Say “No” – BOUNDARIES

Boundaries are AWESOME.

Boundaries are frickin’ empowering.

Boundaries are a part of “self-care.”

In my year of being 23, I learned how to say no to things I didn’t want to do.  It took me a while to figure myself out, but once I did, I called my “saying-yes-to-everything” tendency my “obligation anxiety.”  Here is how it would go:

  1. An opportunity would arise/ someone needs help with something.
  2. I would sign up for something because I felt it was something I should do to (be a better person, build my resume, be ambitious – ie: become a caregiver, host/plan a fundraiser, volunteer somewhere, etc).
  3. I would start doing this activity.
  4. Said activity would start to expect more from me/I would expect more from me regarding said activity. (ie: asking me to work holidays, weird hours that didn’t fit with my schedule, plan events I didn’t actually have time for)
  5. I would say “Yes” to said expectations.
  6. I would get anxious about carrying out said expectations.
  7. I would do said expectations until I burned out OR I would flake out and ignore any duties and simply not do said activity anymore. (Usually the latter.)

In my year of being 23, I learned at that I could totally delete steps 2 – 7 out of my life by REALLY thinking about the opportunity/assistance needed and saying “No” AT STEP ONE!! AMAZING!! THIS WAS MONUMENTAL!

Instead of flaking out on obligations that I created, I could just not make them obligations in the first place.  I STARTED SAYING “NO” TO THINGS I DIDN’T ACTUALLY WANT TO DO! IMAGINE THAT!

It wasn’t until I started my year of being 24 did I actually learn that what I learned to do was SET BOUNDARIES.  Now that I can put a name to what I learned, I’m setting boundaries all over the place!

And now that I’m setting boundaries, I’m noticing the boundaries that other people are setting.  I’m seeing the boundaries, I’m calling them boundaries, I’m understanding those boundaries, and I’m respecting those boundaries.

Boundaries, Boundaries, BOUNDARIES. (I just typed it so much that it’s starting to not look like a word.)


  1. Be cognizant of what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable.
  2. Once you notice what is uncomfortable, set a boundary.
    1. EXAMPLE: Someone you met on a dating site is texting you too much.  You want some space.  SET A BOUNDARY.  “Hey, I need some space.  Text you in a couple days, ok?”  BOUNDARY. BOOM.
    2. Setting a boundary requires honesty, but remember that your amount of disclosure is up to you.  You could be breaking a boundary by getting a little TMI with your boundary explanation – especially if you’re setting a boundary with a co-worker, acquaintance, or random person.
      1. EXAMPLE: A co-worker says that they DESPERATELY need you to cover a shift for them.  But you don’t want to cover their shift.  Maybe it’s your only day off.  Maybe you just don’t feel like it.  Maybe you have plans already.  You do not need to come up with some excuse as to why you can’t work it.  You don’t need to give them any reason. By not sharing your plans, you are setting a boundary.  By not taking the shift, you are setting a boundary.
  3. Enforce said boundary.  Let this person know that you are serious about this boundary.  Setting boundaries and going back on them isn’t good for you or the person/people you are dealing with.  Be consistent with your boundary markers.

What boundaries have you set?  What boundaries do you think you need to set?

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