If you know me at all, it's no secret that setting boundaries and saying no is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I tend take on far more than I can handle at any given time, sacrificing sleep, my health, and time with people I love/enjoy. I almost always end up feeling completely overwhelmed, inadequate, guilty, frustrated, and resentful. I think we were all pretty much taught from an early age not to say "no."
"No" is rude.
"No" is for drugs and strangers with candy.
When I first started thinking about this post, I was just going to rattle off ways to start saying no. I was going to keep it vague and general and matter-of-fact. But nothing about that is being intentional.
So I really started thinking about what it was that made it so hard for me to say no. Taking a raw, honest look at the things that cause my inability to set boundaries. A few of these things are difficult to admit - to myself and certainly to the world - but acknowledgement is the first step to recovery, right?
I want to help. It's not something I'm proud of, but a lot of times I come across as someone who is cold and harsh. I don't try to, but I also don't try not to. The truth is, though, that when it comes down to my heart, I feel like I am a kind soul. I may not say it with words, but I don't want to turn someone away; I want to help them whenever I can.
I'm afraid of conflict. I worry about whether or not someone will get angry if I say no. Will they feel like I'm rejecting them? I hate (...am terrified of...) confrontation and it's always in the back of my mind that if I say no, things will get ugly.
I don't want to burn bridges. If I say no and that person takes it as a sign of rejection, it could lead to a severed relationship. See above regarding conflict. I'm a weenie.
I'm afraid of being rude. I feel like saying no is rude, especially to anyone who may be my senior.
I want to be agreeable. This is the one I think hit me the hardest. I don't want to alienate myself from "the group" because I'm not in agreement and say no to something. Wasn't this type of thinking supposed to be over after high school? Am I not supposed to be past the point of going along with the group for the sake of not rocking the boat? Apparently not. Peer pressure is real, y'all. Even as an adult.
But here's the thing I have to remember: Saying no is about respecting and valuing my time and space. And that's important.
Saying no doesn't mean I'm being rude or disagreeable. It doesn't mean there will be conflict or bridges burned.
I think it's more about HOW I say no rather than the fact that I say no.
It's time to start getting intentional about saying no. To give the things and people who are most important the attention they deserve. There may be some who don't like it, but are those people I really want to surround myself with anyway?
I've said since Day 1 of this series that being intentional isn't something that's going to be easy. As the days continue, it's getting more and more uncomfortable, but I know that's because it's getting real. Just the thought of telling someone "no" causes so much anxiety I start feeling ill. But I will stand strong, I will be intentional, and I will say no when it's necessary.
This post is part of the 31 Days of Intention series. You can see other posts in this series here.