The A-Z Guide For Successful Singles – “N” is for ‘No’
How easy do you find it to say “no” to your boss, your spouse, your children, your family and friends? How often do you get caught in the trap of saying “yes” to someone only to go away and beat yourself up because you really wanted to say “no” but found that you just ‘couldn’t’?
Or if you are able to pluck up the courage to say “no” do you find that you feel guilty, worry about what others are thinking of you or feel you have to justify your reason for saying “no.”
“No” is not a dirty word – it’s ok to say “no.” In fact, it’s essential to our sense of self and it’s essential in relationships if you want to experience true intimacy.
Difficulty say “no” or saying “no” and feeling guilty about it or feeling you have to justify it is a sign that you are struggling with your sense of self – who you are and where you end and others begin. You have clear issues around boundaries – or more likely lack of boundaries.
Take this test. Answer Yes or No for each question:
1. I can’t make up my mind
2. I have difficulty saying ‘no’ to people
3. I feel as if my happiness depends on other people
4. I find myself getting involved with people who hurt me
5. I would rather attend to others than to myself
6. Others’ opinions are more important than mine
7. I have difficulty asking for what I want or need
8. I’d rather go along with what others’ than express what I’d like to do
9. I spend time and energy helping others so much I neglect my own needs
10. I have a hard time knowing what I feel
11. It’s hard for me to make decisions
12. I tend to take on the moods of people close to me
13. I am over sensitive to criticism
14. I don’t spend much time alone
15. I tend to get caught up “in the middle” other people’s problems
16. I put more into relationships than I get out of them
17. I feel responsible for other people’ s feelings
18. I feel bad when I feel “different” from other people
19. It’s hard for me to know what I think and believe
20. I feel an emptiness, as if something is missing in my life
If you found that you could answer ‘Yes’ to several, many or most of these questions, you are struggling with issues around boundaries. The more questions you answered ‘Yes’ to the more you are struggling with boundary issues. Your difficulty saying ‘no’ or saying no and feeling guilty when you do, are expressions of issues you have with healthy boundaries.
And if you are struggling with boundary issues you will struggle with experiencing intimacy and having healthy relationships.
Two ‘Halves’ Don’t Make A ‘Whole’ Relationship
True intimacy is about each person in a relationship being able to live from their true, authentic selves. Being real and genuine, however, isn’t that easy because in being authentic, we risk being criticised, rejected and hurt. It’s only when we feel safe that we can be our authentic selves.
And this is where boundaries come in. Boundaries are a limit to how far we can go with comfort in a relationship. Your boundary defines the physical and psychological space where I end and you begin. Having healthy boundaries is crucial to healthy relationships. Boundaries allow us to know who we really are, they are what make us feel safe enough to be who we are and let our partners be who they really are too.
Healthy boundaries allow you to know yourself. You are aware of your inner world – your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, decisions, choices and experiences.
Being authentic or genuine is about being congruent. It means that you ‘walk your talk’ – your inner world is aligned with your outer world.
When you struggle to say “no,” when you constantly put others needs and wants before your own, when you feel responsible for others feelings, when you believe that your happiness depends on other people, when you constantly ‘give in’, you have ‘blurred’ or ‘fused’ boundaries.
The focus of your attention is outside of yourself and the more your focus of attention is outside yourself, the more disconnected you become from yourself. You find it difficult to make decisions, you don’t share your own opinions and you have a hard time knowing what you really think or feel. You are ‘half’ a person – you don’t really know who you are. And two ‘halves’ don’t make for a ‘whole’ relationship.
Healthy boundaries are flexible and adaptable. Imagine your boundaries are like a set of gates around your heart. You can press the ‘open’ button when it feels safe to let someone in and you can press the ‘close’ button when you need to protect yourself.
When you don’t know who you really are you create two problems with boundaries. Your boundaries become:
- Two rigid – You don’t let anyone in. And if you don’t open the gates to your heart – you can’t give or receive love, no matter how much you want it. You will seek love but either sabotage it or find relationships that make true love and intimacy impossible.
- Too lax – Your boundary is so lax that you are at risk of being mistreated or abused.
To know when to allow in or to keep out, means you have choice over you life. And that’s good news.