Kick Starts

Boundaries: Discovering the Yes Behind the No

February 05, 2024 Sylvia Flanagan, LMFT, Motivational & Behavioral Coach Episode 40
Kick Starts
Boundaries: Discovering the Yes Behind the No
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, I discuss the significance of setting boundaries in order to pursue purposeful growth and help manifest your potential. Fundamentally, I encourage you to know the "yes" that is behind every "no" so you can move your life ahead in an intentional direction that's important to you. I delineate the importance of saying 'no' as a necessary step towards self-care, and distinguish that from selfishness. I then break down two essential phases of setting boundaries. The first phase involves saying 'no' to others, focusing on keeping the unnecessary clutter out, and the second phase pertains to setting boundaries with oneself in order to pave the way for personal expansion and purposeful living . I also highlight the relationship between one's perception of self-worth and the inclination and comfort of setting boundaries, urging listeners to adopt intentionality when setting boundaries and recognizing their inherent value.

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Sylvia:

Hi, this is Sylvia and welcome to Kick Starts. And I keep forgetting to say if you like the show, please consider giving it a rating and a review and pass it on to a friend, because the more people that listen to it and the more ratings I get, the more momentum I have and the more people it reaches. So today I'm going to talk about boundaries, and there's a lot of talk about boundaries right now, which is really good, but I find that most of the energy behind it it's more defensive. It's more defensive in nature and it's more about pushing people or things back from them. And I think that every no we have should be ultimately informing a yes, because if it's only a no to keep something out or away from us, then that creates a stagnation. We kind of just draw a line around us and it keeps us in the status quo. But if there's a no, or if your no is because you realize what you're saying yes to, then that's moving you somewhere and that's growth. You're ultimately moving yourself towards something that's going to mean something, because really, a boundary is ideally an extension of our identity. Boundaries should give shape to our priorities and reflect the responsibility we have towards our goals and our own being, our own life, and that's not selfishness. I always tell my clients there's a huge difference between selfishness and self care. And you and I alone we carry the consequences of whether or not we set a boundary. And if we neglect that for long enough, it is going to catch up with us and it's going to be hard, and at a certain point it's just hard to catch up if you ignore yourself or if I ignore my self for long enough, and that's when we can get you know, we can get regretful or we'll start to to resent certain things in our life, or even resent our self or other people, and at the end of the road it's because we made a choice not to prioritize our self. So when you set a boundary, what are you moving towards? Why are you setting it? How do you want to see yourself in five years or 10 years or 20 years and even further down the road? If you haven't asked yourself those questions, you're probably moving a bit in the dark. I mean, we're always going to change course and we're all going to pivot along the way, but know your course and why you're on it. So at least the changes are made with intention and purpose.

Sylvia:

Think of boundaries as a catalyst to express your potential. Boundaries, as like a form of expansion instead of restriction. Don't wall yourself off, but practice pushing yourself out, because that's what a boundary should do. Otherwise, we're going to walk around with this defensive posture and an attitude of reactivity. that's another way we can just cheat ourselves and hold more of a victim or defensive type of stance. Yeah, you might have to say no at times just for the sake of no, and sometimes we do need to put up a wall, but know why you're doing it.

Sylvia:

A boundary is a form of protection, but what is it protecting you against and what are you wanting instead? If it's not authentic or intentional movement, you're just protecting things from change and you're keeping things as is, and that's why I said earlier it's just another form of almost stagnation. So I look at it like there's two different phases to healthy boundary setting. One phase is saying no for the sake of no, because you, in essence, you take yourself seriously enough to protect and you care enough to set yourself up for success and for purpose in life and you know you have something of value to develop and offer. Fundamentally, you have to know that you matter. This is the foundation for setting any type of healthy boundary. This is more about pushing and keeping things out, about keeping the clutter out, so to speak. It's like weeding and prepping soil because you think something worthwhile can grow out of who you are. And this is where it's crucial to become comfortable with other people not always liking your choices or my choices, and getting comfortable with people getting disappointed or even pushing back. And if you struggle with this, the place to start is learning how to reframe what you're doing is valuable because you believe you have something to live into. And then you'll start to lose the guilt and discomfort when other people are uncomfortable or just don't prefer what's best for you. What you decide what's best for you. A recent social media post I put up that I heard one of my clients say i ,t hey said, don't let somebody else's insecurity or discomfort invalidate your boundaries, and that was perfect. So let's look at the first part. That's more about saying no. William Ury, URY,

Sylvia:

In one of his books he talks about what he calls the 3A trap, and I think they are a great summary of why people don't set boundaries with others well, and the 3As are accommodating, avoiding and attacking. Accommodating is just people pleasing, it's going along with other people. Avoiding it's when people deflect, they put things off, they find ways to not have to say no, or they find ways to just not show up and face the situation or face the conversation and attacking. This is usually a form of resentment. And resentment comes up when somebody just keeps accommodating or people pleasing and ignoring their own needs for long enough and then it sort of erupts and they get angry at the other person when they're asked for something and it's also taking on that stance of a victim. It's like I can't believe you asked me for whatever they asked them for, and it kind of rocks the other person on the other end, especially if they're used to you just pleasing and accommodating them. There's a quote, also by Gandhi, and I think this also captures a lot of what I'm trying to put forward.

Sylvia:

He said "a no uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a yes uttered to please or, what is worse, to avoid trouble. And the word conviction is key here. It's like what's got a hold of you? What's calling you, pulling at you, what's the target that you're focused on and why that target over all the other ones? I think these are great questions to ask for you to help get clarity about what you're moving towards and what you value, which is also a reflection of what you have to offer.

Sylvia:

Now some people have a really hard time saying no, and it can be difficult for different reasons, but they often either like above, they either accommodate, they avoid, or they get angry or attack. Maybe they haven't shaped their vision. That might be one reason. they haven't put together what's important and what's meaningful. Maybe it might be something about their upbringing that has led them to think that the best way to be liked, to feel safe or good about themselves, is to please others, so that they're liked and so they go along with other people, and then they often feel guilty when they say no. Or maybe they just don't know how to tolerate and cope with disagreement, or learn to be okay with somebody else not liking their decisions. And this can be tough for anybody, but it's definitely tougher for some people than others and it can take a while to get comfortable with that and some people may never get comfortable with it. But just because it's not comfortable doesn't mean that we can't do it. But the alternative is going to be a lot more uncomfortable, especially in the future, when it all went, when it all adds up and you've sort of lost yourself and lost your direction, and that discomfort will find everybody eventually.

Sylvia:

Also, it's important to say that saying no to another person as a boundary doesn't mean we have to say no to everything we don't want to do. I mean, sometimes we're gonna do something we don't want to do because we willingly decide to do it, because we want to do it, and I know that doesn't really make sense, but let me explain. I mean I don't want to take my friend to the airport at six o'clock, but I do it because I don't want my friend to be out of a ride or have to have to worry about how she's gonna get to the airport. And, I do something as a, as a gift, and it doesn't hurt me or take away from my direction. It doesn't take anything away from me, maybe, except a little bit of coffee time. And, I'm investing in a relationship and I'm also giving something to someone that I care about. Setting boundaries doesn't mean we don't just say no to everything that we don't want to do, because that is selfishness and that's not a form of self care, and that's why boundaries have to flow from your values and your identity and, and and be shaped in accordance to whatever that target is that you're aiming for.

Sylvia:

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Sylvia:

The second phase of boundary setting is is where we really start to take off and expand. The first phase that I just talked about, it's more about saying no to other people and it is a bit more like a wall. But the second phase is where we actually say no to our self and then we start growing and putting our self out there and moving into the things that are meaningful to us and where we want to expand our potential. This is where identity and your vision and courage all come together and do their thing. It's the big yes, and this big yes should always be informing and directing our no's.

Sylvia:

The yes behind the no is the setting of the compass, and part of this it's asking yourself what do you need to clean up in yourself and the way you live day to day that will help make room for that? What are the boundaries you need to set with yourself? Not with other people, not with other things, but within yourself, for yourself? Where do you need to clean your own house to better make possible whatever vision you have? Is it time on social media or or electronics? So you know,

Sylvia:

If you're saying no to that, what are you saying yes to? You need to change your diet? If you're saying no to certain things, what are you saying yes to? Sleep habits, exercise, self-care, maybe a work-life balance? Are you needing to pay more attention to certain relationships that are already in place? Move with intention and look at yourself and your day-to-day actions closely. You can't, I can't, you can't.. we're not going to do it all at once, but just move and act on something. Choose something. Again, reflect on that question. Where do you want to see yourself in a year, five years, ten years and so on. Is how you're treating yourself and your day-to-day living. is it setting you up for that?

Sylvia:

So, after you clean house a bit and look at your own shoes, or at the same time, this is where you really step out. This is where you throw yourself into things and hopefully start cultivating your vision and values more, more actively. It's like you've done a lot of the groundwork now, and now is where you just go for it. What are you going to tackle first? So, what are you maybe putting off? What are you scared of? What are you passionate about? What are your values and vision nudging you towards that you keep pushing away? How can you take that first step or engage with what you've been putting aside? But be patient. You're going to change course along the way, maybe several times, but at least the trip up to that point will have been taken with intention. Know your why.

Sylvia:

So, basically, to summarize what I've been saying first, come to understand your inherent worth, because you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a shred of evidence to the contrary. Regardless of what horrible things you might have done in your past. You count and you matter. Second, deal with the discomfort of saying no and the possible reactions you might get from others. Take a look and get underneath that guilt, if you have it, any discomfort and sense of perfectionism that you carry that keeps you from taking care and prioritizing yourself. Third, take action. Clean your own house first and look at how you live day to day and then take steps to live out your values and bring all of what's meaningful to fruition, to manifest your potential. Because when we act out our values, that's our integrity, that's a living integrity. When we just hold our values and sit still with them, there's not much of anything but a nice philosophy that we sit on. But all of this together, doing our best to live out the belief that we have something to offer, and taking steps towards it, it means that you and I, we get to try, we get to succeed and we get to fail. We get up to flail around sometimes as we make our way uphill, falling uphill, as they say, but that's just part of it and it's a necessary part.

Sylvia:

Be patient with yourself. You're not a machine. You don't, and I can't, we can't do this all at once. So just stay engaged and stay in motion, but know why you're moving and know where you're moving to. So I challenge you to make yourself a priority. Set yourself first. This may seem selfish to some, but remember it's not. It's not even just self care. It's responsible. When you're in that place of discomfort after setting a boundary, if you get that way, take time to pause and listen, get reacquainted with yourself and what you need so that you can regroup and keep stretching yourself out. Making yourself a priority doesn't mean you don't negotiate and give, but you're aware of why you're doing it. It means you don't lose yourself in the process.

Sylvia:

There's enough room for both you and others. Boundaries don't have to create a divide between you and other people, between me and other people, but instead it gives room for us to kind of move around each other as we and other people in our life navigate what's best for ourselves and find out what's best for other people. Because boundaries actually create intimacy. If I don't share what I need and live those needs out through my truthful and honest yeses and no's, than other people aren't gonna see me for who I am. They're not gonna know me. That itself is gonna create a division, because the more distance and misunderstanding between one another, the less intimate we are with each other. So you matter. You have something really important to offer, uniquely yours. That's for every person listening and not listening. There's not one person who's excluded from this.

Sylvia:

So maybe ask yourself what's something important that you could live into, that the value in meaning couldn't be taken away by change, by chance, by circumstance or even death. That'll give you a clue as to what's most meaningful, what's most important. It'll give you insight into what's gonna give comfort and meaning when you go through periods of unhappiness, which are inevitable because happiness is gonna come and go. But purpose and meaning. they're what gets us through the tough times. Now, these things of most you know, most importance, they're probably not gonna be your money or your belongings, but that doesn't mean they're not important. Just prioritize what's most important, what's most valuable, and know what's gonna endure. If you do your best to remember you have something to offer and you do your best to live out that potential, then as long as you live, you'll know you're gonna be leaving something and living something that redeems any crappy circumstances you might go through. Learn to really acknowledge your worth if you haven't already done so, and step into your values.

Sylvia:

You and I, we might not get a billboard with our picture on it along the way in life, and perhaps we'll just get our initials scratch in the corner of a concrete slab in a garage somewhere, but that doesn't matter. We've left our mark regardless. A life lived with good boundaries is gonna reflect the life that you lived thoughtfully, authentically and with purpose. And the only way to do that is to live through strong, healthy boundaries. But shoot for the billboard, aim high. You got this.

Boundaries
The Power of Setting Boundaries