Just Say No
In December 2020, when it felt like the world was falling apart, I dove into some deep self-reflection. To better understand myself, I started digging into my heritage. I wanted to know about my ancestors and where I come from.
I began mapping out my family tree. Well, actually it’s more of a bush, because it branches more than a few times. I noticed gaps in the family bush, so I asked some relatives to take a DNA test to find more family connections.
Everyone said, “Yes”.
As a Christmas gift, I sent beautiful flower arrangements and DNA kits to everyone. Nothing says, I Love You quite like a DNA test. 😊
Fast forward to January 2021. Everyone received their kits, spit in the tube, and sent it out for analysis. Except for one family member. I asked if he was still ok to take the test. “Yes,” he said, “I just haven’t gotten there yet.” Me, “No problem.”
Along comes February and a few phone calls later. “Hey,” I said, “did you get a chance to send out that kit yet.” “No,” he replied, “but its on my list of things to do. I’ll do it this weekend.” I was super grateful, because it would make my search so much easier to have more data.
March 2021. “Hey,” I offered, “if you don’t want to do it, just let me know”. “I’m getting there”, he said. I could detect a hint of frustration. “OK, but if you don’t want your DNA floating around out there, or for any other reason, I’m ok if you’ve changed your mind,” I suggested. “I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” was his reply.
Now in April 2021, I contacted a mutual relative and asked for her advice. “Yah,” she told me, “he’s not gonna do it. Just let it go.” What? But he said he would. Why didn’t he just tell me in the first place? “He doesn’t wanna to hurt your feelings. He doesn’t want to let you down,” she said.
The reality is, not setting a boundary is hurtful to all parties involved. It’s a violation of everyone’s feelings, time and energy. It hurts both the person who is having a hard time setting the boundary and the receiver.
If you have a hard time saying “No”, my 30 years of counselling experience has taught me, that you likely don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. You might feel responsible for the receiver’s reactions and emotions. Worried they might get mad, hurt, angry, or sad if you say “No”. Worried you might let them down or disappoint them.
When you agree to something that you really don’t want to do, you’re violating your own boundaries. This is NOT honouring your own feelings, rights, and integrity.
When you don’t set a boundary right away, it feels awkward and burdensome, because you are either:
1. Going to follow through and give the other person what they want, but angry with YOURSELF because it’s disrespectful to you and what you truly want.
2. You’re eventually going to say “No” and you might not feel good about it, because not only did you let it go a long time think, think, thinking about it, but chances are you’ve been beating yourself up and angry with the other person. Saying “No” after some time has passed, can sometimes feel even worse, because all of that time has been filled with worry and overthinking.
3. You’ll never say anything, but you won’t follow through either. This just leaves you feeling guilty and embarrassed. It’s likely that you might now resent the other person and maybe even avoid them. Now your relationship feels awkward, uncomfortable, and strained.
It’s often kind-hearted, big softies who have the hardest time saying “No”. You don’t want to rock the boat and you hate conflict. But now think of it from the receiver’s perspective.
As a receiver, you might have gotten your hopes up. You were excited. You were promised something, and you created an expectation that there would be follow through.
When the “No” finally comes, or when you’re just ignored, this hurts even more than facing the boundary right from the beginning. The higher the hopes the deeper the let down.
Chances are the person having a hard time saying “No” is probably scared to hurt or disappoint you. But in the end, it hurts even more because you feel strung along or used.
Was I hurt when I finally realized my family member was not going to help out?
Does he owe me an explanation?
Is it any of my business why he wont follow through?
When you set a boundary. No means no. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You don’t even need an “excuse” for yourself. Maybe your reason is, “I just don’t want to”. And that is ok.
Of course, my feelings are hurt. And, yet it’s not his fault how I feel. I can be mad, I can thank him, I can laugh it off, I can say, “good for you for setting a boundary”. My emotions and feelings are mine to own. And, mine to deal with. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t say “No” sooner, for two reasons.
I’m pretty sure I bugged the crap out of my family member for the past 4 months. His difficulty setting a boundary, was disrespectful to him. A violation of his feelings and rights.
I could have spent the last 4 months researching other avenues and family members. It was disrespectful of me and my time and feelings.
When you think you’re sparing someone’s feelings by NOT setting a boundary, think again. A lack of boundaries is a lack of integrity. Everyone loses. The person who can’t say “No” and the receiver.
Think about how great it feels when you finally say “No”. It feels so good. Liberating. Free. Such a relief. Like a million pounds has been lifted off you.
Now imagine saying this simple, little, two-letter word ~ simple word but not so simple to say ~ up front. Imagine how good you would feel to say “No” right away.
Will it be hard to say?
Will the receiver be hurt?
Imagine the alternative.
When you don’t say “No”, everyone feels the pain.
Saying “No”, not saying “No” – they’re both hard to do. The sooner you are true to yourself, the faster you can release the pain. And, the quicker you can both move forward with integrity and respect.
I hope you gain insight, support, and courage from my situation. And, set healthy boundaries that respects you and others.
Please share your thoughts. What makes saying “No” so darn hard for you?
If you need help to build boundaries OR if you’re having a hard time on the receiving end of a “No” or waiting for some follow through – I’m happy to support you through the process.
Call or email to book an appointment today.