How to say ‘No’ and Other Boundaries That Help Us Build Resilience

Sometimes we say ‘Yes’ to someone or something, when we mean to say ‘No’. Sometimes we find ourselves getting into a habit of checking our email at 11pm, not sleeping enough day after day just to get things done, or looking back on our week and realising we didn’t make time to have any fun. Sometimes we get over involved in other people’s business or we fail to accept help when we need it.  These are all examples of struggling to manage our boundaries.

One of the top barriers to resilience is having weak or unclear boundaries. Having resilience is an antidote to feeling tired, overwhelmed or stressed. When we are resilient, we can be more productive, make better decisions, tackle problems with positivity and creativity, and keep going for longer.

Here are three areas to explore in order to manage your boundaries and build resilience.

  1. Saying ‘Yes’ is still saying ‘No’.

It can feel uncomfortable to say ‘No’ when you are asked to help or take on a task even when you have too much on your plate already. Saying ‘Yes’ in this situation is appealing as it can chime with your values of being helpful, kind, reliable or organised. However, it can leave you feeling resentful, neglecting your own wellbeing to make space for it, or doing a poor job as you spread yourself too thin.

When you say ‘Yes’ to something you are actually still saying ‘No’. You are saying ‘No’ to doing something else or being with someone else. Ultimately, your time each day is finite.

Of course, there are urgent and important situations when you have to say ‘Yes’. In that case, your boundaries still need to be managed.  Ask what else can be dropped. Or say ‘Yes’, yet specify when it can be done, limit how long can be devoted to it or ask for help from others too.

Next time you are asked to take on something else, try asking these questions:

  • If I say ‘Yes’ to this, what am I saying ‘No’ to?
  • If I need to say ‘No’, how can I practice saying it in a way that feels comfortable for me?
  • If I need to say ‘Yes’, how can I still manage my boundaries?

2. Your wellbeing is essential.

Do you treat your wellbeing as a top priority? Or do you treat your wellbeing as something that will always be there regardless? When you are not well, you cannot function. Taking care of yourself and protecting your wellbeing is in fact fundamental to being able to achieve anything else.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I treat my wellbeing as one of my top priorities?
  • What do I do each day to support my wellbeing?
  • What else is important to me and needs protecting?

3. Continually review your boundaries.

Like resilience, managing your boundaries is a practice. It is something that you need to work on and continually adapt. Start by being aware of what works for you and for those around you. Notice what gives you energy, what drains you, and how you communicate to others about what you need. Be alert to when you need to say ‘No’ but also when you need to say ‘Yes’, let others in or accept help.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I able to articulate what I need and what my limits are?
  • Am I regularly checking my boundaries and reviewing them?
  • What is working for me and what isn’t?
  • Am I aware of the boundaries of others around me?

The Early Resilience Coaching Walk will give you a chance to walk, talk, recharge and reflect on your own boundaries. Join us at 8am on Friday 30th April to walk locally wherever you are while connecting with Anise and a small, friendly group via Zoom.

If you’d like to think more about your boundaries and resilience, get in touch with Anise to find out about how Resilience Coaching could work for you.