Do You Say “Yes” When You Want To Say “No”? 5 Tips For Better Boundaries

By Dominica


Last Updated: December 28, 2020

I used to be a “yes” person.

Someone would come to me asking me to do something and inside my head I’d be thinking, “No. I absolutely do not want to do that.”

But then I’d blurt out, “Yes” automatically.

It was a habit that didn’t serve me well, leaving me agreeing to far more than I could manage to do.  It left me feeling burned out and disappointed with myself.

But over the years, I started learning more about boundaries.

I learned that it’s alright to say “no”. If I didn’t want to do something, I had every right to decline.

That didn’t mean I was a bad or selfish person.

It meant I had some internal and external boundaries.

Building Better Boundaries

Some people grow up with blurred boundaries in the household. Little Johnny who throws a tantrum to get something (and succeeds) learns that boundaries can be manipulated.

Little Jane’s parents may have very rigid boundaries. They may fuss her when she wants or needs something.  So, when she grows up, she has a tough time knowing what she wants or needs. She also has a tough time speaking them.

We’re not born with superb boundary setting skills. Oftentimes, we must take time to learn what appropriate boundaries are and then practice keeping them.

One thing is for sure.

If you take time to learn better boundary setting skills, you’re more apt to live a more peaceful life.  When you can say “yes” when you want and “no” when you want, you minimize internal battles.  You also minimize fear of rejection, abandonment, and worry about what people will think of you.

Here are five tips to help you learn to set better, stronger boundaries:

1.       Keep It Simple

If someone comes and asks you something, you don't have to go into a lengthy explanation of why you don't want to do it. All you have to do is politely decline. It's easy to over-apologize or start beating yourself up immediately for saying “no”, so be aware of this and resist the temptation.

You could simply say something like, “I really can't help you out with that right now , but thank you for asking.” You can even rehearse what you want to tell people when you want to tell them “no”. That way, when they come at you with their requests, you already know what you're going to say rather than blurting out “yes” out of habit.

2.       Use The “I’ll Get Back With You On That” Phrase

When someone asks something of you, you do not have to answer them right away. You have every right to sit with that and really think about whether you want to say yes or no. Rather than blurt out “yes”, say, “I'll get back to you on that.”

Or, “Let me sit with that and I'll get back to you tomorrow.”

Then, really go within to see if you want to take on whatever they're requesting. If you do, great!

If you don't, that's fine too. What you want and need really do matter.

3.       Don't Take Backlash Personally

Chances are if you've been a “yes” person for a while, those closest to you realize that. They know that if they want or need something, and ask you for it, you're going to say yes. So be prepared for them to be a little awestruck when you tell them no.

Some of them may flat out dislike that response and give you some backlash. Try not to take it personal, as they've been spoiled by “yes” and their brain may be a little confused by you setting this boundary. As you continue to tap into your true wants and needs, eventually they'll come to understand that you're just taking care of yourself.

You're not rejecting them. You're simply being true to you.

Wrapping It Up

It’s wonderful to be a helpful person.  Whether it’s at work, at home, or in the community, saying “yes” to requests is perfectly fine.  We should all want to show up as support for others in need.

However, if you’re saying “yes” when you really want to say “no”, it’s time to do a little digging as to why.

Are you afraid they will get mad at you?  Reject you? Cut you off as a friend?

Is “people pleasing” getting out of control?

If so, rest assured you can learn how to be more balanced in this area, learning how to really know what you want and need, and what you’re willing to give to others.

It feels good to stay aligned with what we truly want and need. It also feels good to be there for others when they are in need.

May we all learn the art of staying balanced with the “yes” and “no”, giving ourselves permission to do (or not do) what we truly desire.


2 comments on “Do You Say “Yes” When You Want To Say “No”? 5 Tips For Better Boundaries”

  1. Sayong yes, when wanting to say no
    Thank you very much.

    That was very helpful and calming.
    Very Informative, knowledgeable, Motivating, Inspiring,and positive

    I love al the 5 tips and can very much resonate with the message.

    Again, Thank you very much

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