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How to say NO to your family and others
Setting clear boundaries
If you have ever said YES when you really meant NO chances are you are not clear about setting boundaries for yourself. You may also be giving mixed messages and creating an inconsistent message to friends, colleagues and family
At the supermarket I often see a common theme when a child having whined and screamed and been told no at the checkout a number of times eventually gets a yes and the candy or whatever is bought just to keep them quiet. So, great lesson for the child - if I scream and whine, I'll get it. The same occurs with adults who are skilled manipulators (probably learned it in the supermarket line up when they were that screaming 5 year old) who use emotional blackmail, guilt, threats, make indirect passive or aggressive statements, use bullying or just keep asking - until you say yes to get them to shut up!
So how do we say no to any or all of these tactics, retain our friends and family and don't get fired?
Understanding your own personal comfort level is the first step in setting a clear boundary. If you are someone who is genuinely uncomfortable saying no to someone ask yourself - when did that start? Consider if all the times you have said yes really felt OK for you. Chances are you are a generous person - which is great - but you are also setting yourself up to get taken advantage of, not great at all.
Where do YOU draw the line?
Creating boundaries does not mean setting a rigid line of defense around yourself. The best boundaries are unbroken wavy lines that accommodate circumstances and situations but who give the same consistent message. Broken lines represent broken and inconsistent messages and a straight line with no breaks represents just that the same message.
Draw the lines on a sheet of paper - think of different times when the wavy line or the rigid line might be useful and then consider whether you use the broken line. The last one usually goes with an uncomfortable or resentful feeling about a yes which should have been a no. The rigid one can set us up into conflict and can be a safety barrier, depending on the circumstances. The wavy line is probably the most comfortable and accommodating once we get used to the practice of being consistent.
Practicing Boundaries to get to NO
The first few times we start to say no if we have always been the one to say yes will definitely have an impact on you and on others. At first you may experience anger and hostility, and resentment. So practising how to say no is important.
Come up with a couple of scenarios that have resulted in you saying yes and where you know that you really wanted to say no. In front of a mirror practice role playing the situation differently. Be both parties. How does it feel to say no? Keep practicing until you start to feel more comfortable and confident. If you have a good friend, counsellor or coach practice it with them. If you think you need help with this please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or seek out a local professional whom you trust