Personal Boundaries Blog
Niki Bergler  

“No” is a Complete Sentence.

Setting boundaries is tough! If you are like me, when you squeak out a no, it comes with a world of what-ifs and oh shits. What if I am letting someone down when they really need someone? Will I no longer be enough? Are they going to stop liking me? Oh, shit, am I the problem? Are they going to say bad things about me to everyone else?

There have been relationships where I did not feel safe saying no. Looking back, feeling this way should have been a red flag. However, I clung to these relationships like a fly on the windshield of a car, holding on desperately. At the same time, the vehicle driver picked up speed, paying no attention to delicate me. Or worse, speeding up to see how long I could hang on. Sociopath.

But eventually, you must stand up for yourself. Because you begin to realize you are miserable trying to keep everyone happy, and the reality is they aren’t happy anyway! Right!? These types of people ALWAYS seem to have something to complain about!

So, you lay the smackdown. If you are not there yet, I'll share with you some things I learned that you can look forward to when you begin to understand that no is a complete sentence. 

1) Those people who only loved me if I was useful were not the people I needed.

2) Most people started appreciating me more when I respected my time more. They were envious of it! They wanted the same thing!

3) Life moves on, usually much better than the worst-case scenario you imagined.

4) Removing certain people opened space for the right people to come into my life. The right people will challenge you, support, encourage, and inspire you just by being themselves.

5) “Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.” (If you sang that, you are my people.)

Here are some boundaries other people, just like us, are struggling with:

"I cook dinner for my family, but when dinner is over, everyone else goes and does their thing while I clean up."

"People call me dependable, reliable, or loyal because I always say yes, but doing so leaves me feeling drained."

"I have this one friend who you can't get a word in edgewise as they spill out their never-ending drama, but when I have a problem, I can't seem to reach them."

"My boyfriend is the sweetest until he doesn't get what he wants, then he throws a fit, causing me to feel like the worst person in the world and give into whatever he wants."

“If I am not careful of what I say, my friend shuts me out.”

“My friend is always late. How can I get her to respect my time too?”

"No is a complete sentence." – Anne Lamont 

So, what is a boundary? Sometimes, we hear a word so often that it becomes familiar, but we stumble when asked to define it. Suddenly, we feel insecure about our lack of knowledge, and in a panic, we run to Google or Alexa to save us. (Thankfully, it’s no longer the library we have to run to. That would take up the whole afternoon.)

When you set a boundary, you are saying, this is who I am, this is what I need to take care of myself, and this is what I need to take care of you. You are not selfish, lazy, or self-centered. (At least, I hope not, but those people exist. You please some of them!)

But your outcome will depend on how you respond to the situation.

Let me ask the people who feel like they do everything around the house. Have you discussed your need for help around the house with your family, or do you grumble under your breath every evening while doing it yourself, hoping they will suddenly come to your rescue and prove their love?

Been there. I get it! It seems hopeless, you've asked before, but they keep falling back into the same pattern, OR they complain so much you'd rather do it yourself! They should WANT to help, right!? They love us; can't they see how tired we are?

We do not have time to discuss why people don’t jump in and help, but trust me if you are in a healthy relationship, the problem is not that they don't care about you.

Step one: start the discussion with a clear outcome. Repeat after me: "Hey guys, I enjoy cooking dinner, and I appreciate your help sharing the duties. Which sounds better: one person handles all the cleaning up after dinner one to two nights a week, or we all pitch in every night?"

Your direction will get the conversation going and encourage your family to feel included in the decision. There is a good chance, well probably, ok, most definitely, you will get pushback at first. Keep your calm voice. Remind your fellow worker bees until it becomes a habit in their schedule. Or better yet, create a reward system. It doesn’t have to be much. I am in my late thirties, and I still love gold stars. 🌟

Step two: hold your ground! DO NOT let them get out of it! (Unless it's life or death) Do not explain or justify your request. You are not a salesperson (well, you might be), but you are not making a sale here. You are setting a boundary. If you plan to enlist your mini-you's, speak to your partner and devise a plan together, as they should also pitch in. #strongertogether

Does your co-worker throw more paper your way than cloth? (Hundred dolla bills ya'all. What a weird thing to write because I would never say that out loud! J/K, I just did.) What that means is, do you have a co-worker or boss who keeps putting more and more on your to-do list?

"Hi, Tom. Yes, I can help. I am also working on this, this, and that; which would you like me to stop working on to focus my attention on your request?"

"My boyfriend is the sweetest until he doesn't get what he wants, then he throws a fit, causing me to feel like the worst person in the world and give into whatever he wants."

Do I have to tell you to put on a no-trespassing sign? Ok, we'll say leaving him is not an option. He has trained you well. Did that hurt? Good. The hard truth, goddess, is that your man mistreats you because you let him. You deserve better, and that person is not going to find you if you are already with someone. Lift that chin up and clean your plate. (This goes for men too!)

How someone feels, acts, or reacts is not your responsibility or cause. Take responsibility for your actions and responses; don't worry about everyone else.

Look out for each other, help, love each other, and give those gifts to yourself. Ensure you have water in your bucket before filling up another's. And sometimes, that means saying no.

A black and white image of the word love.

*Would you like to know more? Check out my post "How to Start Setting Boundaries." 

You can find one of my favorite resources for boundaries here.

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