Why You Need To Set Boundaries And Learn To Say "No"

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 How To Say No & Set Boundaries For Healthy Relationships

Do you know the importance of learning how to say "no" when it comes to setting boundaries in your relationships?

"When I said "no" for the first time, I felt an energy rush through my body. I didn’t know if I was happy, scared, sad, or crazy. All I know is that I was not supposed to say "yes". And it actually felt great!

I had been feeling drained for the past two years. My tank was on empty and I just kept getting more and more bitter and resentful.

I was angry all the time. Angry at everyone, no matter what they did or didn’t do. I was not sleeping. I was eating all the time, even when I wasn’t hungry. I was depressed and anxious. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

All I knew was that I was so tired of feeling this way."

RELATED: How To Set Healthy Personal Boundaries (And Make Sure You Don't Get Taken Advantage Of Again!)

The above is a testimony from a client who was suffering from the lack of healthy boundaries in her life. If you’re feeling bitter, resentful, angry, and drained, you're probably lacking in boundaries as well.

People will tell you "Just say no." Healthy relationships require these types of boundaries in order to thrive.

But, women are raised to say "yes" and there are societal and familial reasons for this. Regardless, we are taught to feel guilty or selfish if we have personal and emotional boundaries. Thus, most of us don't know how to set boundaries.

Different people have different boundaries. There are safe people and unsafe people.

The safe people can have low boundaries and they tend to be trustworthy and respectful of your boundaries. They are usually good communicators with mutual respect and understanding. Safe people tend to energize you and lift you up. You feel heard and valued with safe people.

Meanwhile, unsafe people are the opposite and need high boundaries. They tend to be selfish and want what they want without respecting you as a person with your own needs, wants, and desires.

Unsafe people tend to not communicate and if they do, it is usually in a passive-aggressive way. If they don’t get what they want from you, they may tend to manipulate or guilt you into submission.

Unsafe people usually create a sense of anxiety in us and we feel drained around them or dread spending time with them.

Boundaries in a relationship can be described in the following way: it’s garbage day.

You’ve taken your garbage cans out to the curb where the garbage truck picks it up. Your neighbor, however, takes his garbage can and dumps it on your lawn. Someone with poor boundaries says, "Hey, no problem, I’ll pick that up for you and put it with my garbage." A person with good boundaries says, "Hey, that's your garbage. You need to get it off my property and take care of it yourself. I’m not responsible for your garbage. I have my own."

See the difference?

When you let others dump their metaphorical garbage on your lawn, you will be bitter, resentful, angry, and drained.

There won’t be enough energy left over to take care of your own needs or wants. When you don’t let others dump their garbage on your lawn, you may look like a jerk but we all know you’re not a jerk! You’re just not taking responsibility for someone else’s garbage!

That is not selfish at all. That is healthy and loving toward yourself. This is the goal.

People pleasers have the hardest time with boundaries. Their sense of self-worth is tied to everyone liking them. They crumble inside if people are upset with them and are the most vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

RELATED: 3 Key Steps To Healthy Boundaries — And Healthy Relationships

If you’re a people pleaser, you must ask yourself, "What is more important? Everyone liking me and being constantly anxious that they don’t or loving myself and being healthy and strong?'

Boundaries exude strength. People with boundaries have good energy, take good care of themselves, and know their own limits. They know when to say "yes" and when to say "no".

Most importantly, they do not function out of guilt or obligation. They function out of knowing what they have energy for and what they do not.

To set good boundaries, here are 5 steps.

1. Take an inventory of what people or situations in your life drain you and leave you bitter or resentful.

2. Listen to your gut/intuition. Trust your gut will know when to say "yes" and when to say "no". The body always knows!

3. Ask yourself, "If I agree to say 'yes', will it drain me, leave me empty, angry, resentful?"

4. Ask yourself, "Am I agreeing to something out of a sense of duty or obligation? If so, is there a way to say 'yes' and still take care of my own needs?" If not, then the best answer is probably "no".

5. Pay attention to your own self-care. Are you prioritizing what you need to do to be energized, uplifted, rested, and healthy?

If you live your life pleasing everyone else at your own expense, you will shrivel up like a prune. You will be depressed and anxious like my client was.

Depression and anxiety can lead to a host of other issues, both mentally and physically. If you push back and realize what your boundaries are you will have all you need to love yourself and others.

Set those boundaries. Make sure someone else’s garbage is not on your lawn.

RELATED: 3 Steps To Creating Healthy Boundaries With Everyone You Know

Lesley Goth, PsyD, has been in private practice for 15 years and is an expert in the field of relationships and trauma.