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Setting boundaries, Saying “No.”

It is a beautiful thing when you are physically, emotionally, mentally, or professionally present and supportive to others. After all, we are innately built to be compassionate social beings. However, it is possible that too much generosity can lead a person to feeling depleted, lost, and emotionally exhausted. We remain captive prisoners in our mind and bodies when we say “yes” to others while saying “No” to ourselves.

All humans have a need for a sense of acceptance and belonging, but many live seeking the approval of others and perpetuate cycles of depression and learned helplessness through avoiding conflict or accepting exploitation. Within our social construct, we have implicit societal messages that reinforce selfless behaviors that tend to result in people losing their sense of Self. In an unbalanced system, a person that is overworked, or exhibits immeasurable amounts of selflessness, is revered. However, taking care of the Self is just as important as benevolence. If you do not consciously make strides in taking care of yourself, you are bound to feel exhaustion, depression, helplessness, and anxiety. Sometimes taking care of yourself means saying “NO” to that coworker or boss that is giving you extra work, or saying “No” to that family member who is asking for money, exhibiting sense of entitlement, being unfair or mean to you… or saying “No” to that friend who invites you to support an event you do not believe in, or simply don’t have an interest in attending for other reasons. Maintaining your integrity and holding true to your principles and values is influential in preserving your sense of Self.

You may feel intimidated to create waves, and avoid rocking the boat within your family or friendships because of fear of hurting others’ feelings, being rejected, or making people mad at you. Despite this, it’s integral to your sense of existence and empowerment that you say “No” when you don’t agree or want to do something. It’s important to disappoint another person if it means being true to yourself and not betraying your own Self and principles. Protect yourself from exploitation by others. Protect yourself from the people who feel a sense of entitlement to demand things from you by being brave enough to assert yourself with a clear “No.” I often find that people enduring issues around anger struggle with setting boundaries and self-advocacy and saying”No” to others, as well as, themselves. Saying “No” to the unhealthy, impulsive parts of self engages self-discipline and can help bring an end to addiction, and other impulsive behaviors.

Find your inner voice and assertively communicate “No” when you feel it is in your best interest. Set limits. No one is exempt from your boundaries and you are responsible for setting limits and advocating for yourself. Many of us belong to various groups and familial communities; and while we are cohort members of these groups, we also are individuals that have the right to our autonomy within these systems.

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