I was chatting with a friend the other day and she expressed reluctance to bother me or intrude in my life with a question. I replied that she could trust me to tell her if I was too busy to answer her at that moment. She said she felt relief in that expression of trust. Safe, clear boundaries do that! They help us feel safe and they help the people in our lives feel safe.
She went on to say that she knows co-workers that defer even if they don’t want to because they feel obligated. It’s uncomfortable for everyone. She wonders, “do you really have a moment for instruction or are you just saying so because I’m the lead and you feel you can’t say no?”
Energetically, unclear boundaries feel unsafe and therefore everyone feels on edge a bit.
So what are safe boundaries and how do I get there when I can’t say no?
I totally get this! I remember years ago I could NOT say the “no” word. Just couldn’t do it. I would do things I didn’t want to do or bail out at the last minute. I would have a neighbor take my car for the whole day when I only got the car one day a week to do errands. At great hassle to myself, I gave in – every time!
I knew I had to set a boundary but I just didn’t know how.
So, I did what I always do when I’m stuck. I prayed about it. Now, personally, I think prayer is magic because here’s what happened. That neighbor called again knowing that I had the car. I had a ton of errands to do and needed it for my own stuff. As the phone was ringing, I still didn’t have an answer and I was still praying!
I picked up the phone and heard her request. What came out of my mouth was nothing short of a miracle. I said, “I’m uncomfortable with that.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I kept silent. I knew that whatever excuse I came up with she would have a better reason. It felt like I”d dropped a bomb. After a really long moment the neighbor said, “Oh, ok. I’ll just get Sue to loan me her car. Thanks anyway.”
That statement “I’m uncomfortable with that” was TRUTH. Pure truth. No guilt, no shame, no blame, no excuse . . . just truth. That truth set me free! Holy Wow!!
That one experience gave me courage to speak my truth in other situations. The trick is finding the truth amidst the muck of obligation, fear of judgment or criticism, and the verbal/emotional manipulation from others. I didn’t want them to feel badly because that meant I would feel their pain as well as mine. (Untrained Empaths feel everything!) When I gave in, at least I only felt my own suffering.
It gets to a point when you just have had enough of that inflicted suffering and just want to be free of it. The truth does that. It frees you. It frees you from manipulation and it frees you from fear, obligation, and suffering needlessly.
But I don’t want others to not like me or be mad at me. They might not be mad at you. The might, but the pain of being mad at yourself is worse, isn’t it? It certainly gets to be after a while.
So, I wrote out some TRUTH statements and taped them next to my phone so I’d be ready. That really helped in the days when I was learning to speak my truth.
You see, we can comply – do what others want. Rebel – defy a request out of hand; don’t do what others want when you said you would, or wiggle out of an agreement. Or Walk a Sacred Path – doing what is in your heart to do. Guess which one grants you powerful energy to move forward? On a sacred path, we may choose to do something that someone asks of us – not out of obligation or fear but out of our free will and our loving heart. Or we will decline their request – not out of anger and frustration but out of our free will and our loving heart.
Whatever you are doing, notice if you have an energy of being pulled back, held up, or restricted . . . you are not walking in your truth on your sacred path. (To be clear, we all do things we don’t like to do. Cleaning toilets isn’t fun, yet that may be part of my sacred path.)
So, if someone is expecting me to do something, I get to choose which space I’m in. Comply? Rebel? Or Walk a Sacred Path. Finding my truth leads me directly onto my sacred path. Even though to someone else it might look like complying or rebelling. You heart knows the truth of it.
The truth is neutral. The truth does not carry a negative charge – even if it’s not what the other person wants to hear! If a person chooses to get upset, you get to stay neutral. How cool/powerful is that!?! Even an Empath can walk the Sacred Path of Truth without suffering.
Here are some Clear Boundary statements that speak the truth:
-I’m uncomfortable with that.
-I know I did that for you before, but not today. (Remember -don’t give them a REASON or an EXCUSE – they will pick it to pieces and overpower you. Just speak your truth and be silent!)
-Perhaps another time. I have other commitments for now. (If they push for a when, just repeat yourself . . . “I have other commitments for now.” If they push for what’s more important than them, just repeat yourself . . . “I have other commitments for now.”)
-Hmm. That sounds like a tough situation. If anyone can figure it out, you can. (Silence – let them figure it out! What a gift you are giving them!)
-I’m not sure how to respond to that. Let me get back to you. (give yourself time and space to think! You have a right to that!)
-I have to think about that.
-I don’t have an answer right now.
-If my help wasn’t an option, what else might you do?
You get the idea! Have fun with creating your own list based on your own circumstances.
Remember: Speak the TRUTH and then be SILENT. If you are asked a question like “Who do you think you are?” they are not seeking information, they are seeking to belittle you, steal your power, and get their own way. Don’t bite that hook! It’s manipulation and you are breaking free from that!
Keep finding new ways to say no without using the no word. It can be fun! This empowers you while helping others feel safe in your world. Your life is your world. Own it.