A common reason women often find it difficult to say no and to set boundaries is because they do not say ‘YES’ to themselves. Setting boundaries and limits is defining for yourself ‘this is who I am.’
Women tend to make others’ needs, opinions, wishes and feelings more important than their own. Therefore, denying another by saying no may not sit comfortably. Saying ‘YES’ to ourselves may not be a habit yet acquired.
Here are some other common reasons for not saying no,and thoughts around them:
Being afraid they won’t like you anymore. Were that to be the case, it would mean that you were not being respected for being true to yourself and you may want to ask yourself if you want to be around someone who does not respect you. What really matters is your own opinion of yourself.
Being afraid of creating conflict. This is somewhat ambiguous. Why do I say that? I’ll illustrate with an example: Jane is asked by her colleague, Bethan, to do something which is not in her job description and which she does not want to do. She may worry that, if she says no to Bethan, an unfriendly atmosphere will ensue and there will not be a relaxed feeling between them. What if Jane says yes when she wants to say no – that way, she creates conflict within herself. If she says no, she will have been true to herself (a great feeling); if she says yes to her colleague, she will not have been true to herself and will feel uncomfortable inside.
Being afraid the other will feel rejected. It’s useful to make clear that you are rejecting the request and not the person. And, in the final analysis, you can’t be responsible for someone else’s feelings. You can only be responsible for your own. This does not mean you don’t care about the other person. It means you also care about yourself.
Tools, Ideas and Ways Forward
DEVELOP CONFIDENCE TO SOUND YOUR NOTE IN THE WORLD. The authentic energy of women is vital to restore balance and harmony on the planet. In order to empower ourselves, we need to teach others how we want to be treated – which sometimes involves saying ‘NO’ to others and ‘YES’ to ourselves. We need to make clear our boundaries. First, we ourselves need to know what they are – what serves us in being our best selves, making our contribution and flourishing. This, after all, is the most fun way of living! Do you know what your boundaries are? Where in your life do you need to make them known?
Say ‘YES’ TO YOURSELF – The main ingredient of successfully creating boundaries and saying ‘NO’ when appropriate is to say ‘YES’ to yourself. Yes to your needs, ideas, opinions and way of being. You are unique and the world needs you as you truly are and not as a diluted version of yourself. Loving, honouring and respecting yourself are key to saying no when necessary and feeling fine about it. How might you love yourself more?
3. USE THE WORD NO! When refusing a request, it’s important to include the word ‘no’ in the reply. This is something women often shy away from. ‘I don’t think so’ or ‘I don’t really have time’ or apologising profusely for refusing the request don’t cut it. A women in her own power actually says ‘No.’ And, in fact, everyone is better off for the clarity. Of course, it’s fine to add something like ‘I hope you find someone to help’; or ‘No, unfortunately I’m not able to help.’ Would you prefer someone to say yes to a request even though they didn’t want to, perhaps because they wanted to shield you from hearing a no; or would you rather they were true to themselves, respected both you and themselves and said ‘No’? I know which I’d prefer.
Defining your limits and your needs helps to give an indication to other people as to how you want to be treated. If you allow others to take you for granted or to ride rough-shod over you without objecting or making your position clear, they will continue to do so.
If we are in touch with our own flow and if we believe ourselves to be as deserving as anybody else, we will be able to act powerfully to assert our needs. We will take responsibility for ourselves, for who we are and for what we do. We will take responsibility for making our own choices.
Feel free to download the ‘7 Steps to Assertive and Deeply Confident Living for Women.’