Saying no is the most difficult thing to do…. don’t you agree? IF you don’t agree with me then cheers for you, since you have probably mastered this crucial yet extremely difficult art of letting people down gently and with tact. But if you have a pattern of saying yes and regretting it afterwards, you may unconsciously be setting yourself up for accumulating feelings of resentment that will surely surface at some future point in your life and cause you further regret.
We have probably been made to believe that in order to be well-liked and appreciated we have to be nice and helpful to others….in other words.. people-pleasers. A complete disregard to our own feelings and needs goes hand-in-hand with wanting to please people to be worthy of their love, attention, and respect. This not only attracts certain types of people to take advantage of our space, time, and energy; but it also creates unhealthy boundaries in our personal and work relationships. We need to learn how to create ‘compassionate boundaries’! What are compassionate boundaries and how do we go about creating them?
Compassionate boundaries are as the term implies; being compassionate to yourself and others during any situation that may arise, or any difficulty that you or others may face. It means being able to respect and value yourself enough to be able to say no without hurting the other person’s feelings. Learning to say no with compassion will help you release accumulated anger and resentment, will help you protect and shield your space, time, and energy, and will save your work and personal relationships from eventual collapse.
Steps To Creating Compassionate Boundaries:
1 || Physically Recognise When A Boundary Has Been Crossed
How do you recognise when a certain boundary has been crossed? Physical sensations. When you are in tune with your body, you should be able to recognise certain physical sensations that arise in your body when a boundary has been crossed. These sensations could be an increased heart rate, a locked jaw, neck and shoulder stiffness, or a tingling in your abdomen or hands. Tune in to the sensations and focus on the feelings that arise from these sensations such as fear or anger.
2 || Be Kind To Yourself
Accept your feelings and treat them with kindness; don’t be too hard on yourself you are still learning to set boundaries. Try to soothe the anger that you feel, but don’t push it away. Feel it, accept that it’s there and soothe it by talking kindly to yourself.
3 || What Are Your Needs
When a certain boundary has been crossed this mean that a certain need of yours has been disregarded or violated. Recognise the need or needs that have been brushed aside and ask yourself what steps are needed to protect your needs or to restore them.
4 || Visualise
Since your need to say yes stems from the fact that you want to be loved and accepted; when trying to set boundaries it is important to bring back a memory of when you felt deeply loved and grounded and keep on visualising it. This will give you some courage when you want to say no.
5 || Rehearse
Mentally rehearse what you’re planning to say if you have decided to confront the person who is crossing your boundaries. Do you sound sincere?
6 || Establish Compassionate Boundaries
– Think of something good to say and start with that. It could be a compliment or just voicing appreciation.
– Say what you want and how you feel in a straight forward manner for example “I would like us to communicate effectively…”
– Be compassionate; explain to the person that you understand what they’re going through and that you’re here to help as best as you can. State how you can be of help and don’t feel compelled to offer more. You may or may not need to explain yourself as to why you can’t do more; you be the judge of that but generally speaking you do NOT have to justify.
– Ask for their feedback; “are you ok with this?” or “do you have a better idea?”
– Let go. You have done what you can so if the end result isn’t exactly to your liking be okay with that. You were able to stand up for yourself and you shared what was bothering you, so if things don’t immediately change this doesn’t mean that you have failed. Any act of setting boundaries hits home the first time but the results may not be that immediate so be consistent.