Many of us have a habit of either being “No” champions or “Yes” enthusiasts when it comes to protecting ourselves. It’s like we’ve got boundary superpowers! But here’s the catch – both of these extremes of being too closed or too open might be unhealthy.
People who say “No” as a knee-jerk reaction don’t stop to consider the possibilities. As soon as they feel the pressure to do something they react by closing it down. Behind this is a lack of trust in the other person.
Conversely, people who overwhelmingly say “Yes” often do so to appease the other person without consideration of their own wants and needs. Behind this is an unwarranted trust in others and a belief that it is not safe to push back.
Boundaries indicate your fears
In both cases, the response is not from the wise self but part of a habit that has been adopted based on fear. Acting from this habit leads to a feeling of regret and an obligation to stick to what has been said. Saying “No” means you may miss out on things that may be appealing and always being skeptical does not allow for the maintenance of good personal relationships. Saying “Yes” means having to take part in things that are really not appealing. The disappointment and resentment that builds can also undermine relationships.
Avoiding poor and damaged relationships
Being at one extreme or the other will lead to conditionality in your relationships. If you say “No” too easily this will also lead to buzzkill being an expected response such that people won’t come to you even if you could be of support. It may even lead to you being cut out because of the negativity you convey around things that other people want to get done. In other words, you undermine them. If you say “Yes” too easily this will come to be expected and will likely lead to people taking advantage of your time and energy. Everyone will want the support that you offer and this puts you at risk for burnout. In other words, they undermine you.
These programs or habits are automatic. You can witness them if you find yourself always giving low or high ratings. Or if you often feel discomfort following saying “no” or “Yes”. You may notice the pain of wanting to be included if you are in the “No” camp or wanting to be left alone to recharge if you are in the “Yes” camp. You can solve these unhealthy extreme boundaries by entering the camp of MAYBE.
Asking your intuition
Saying Maybe could seem a poor choice because it appears as if you won’t commit. However, it is just a temporary bookmark holding the place while you check in with yourself. It gives you time to connect with your intuition (the inner wise you) and see if you find yourself metaphorically leaning in or backing away. This feedback allows you to choose the appropriate response in a considered way. It creates space between you and the question so that you can objectively observe how you feel with each response. This will allow you to overcome your kneejerk response habit, become a boundary wizard, and connect with the things that you really like to do.
You may find that you have an ambiguous response that is a mix of leaning in and backing away. When you write both responses down together it conveys where your fear lies and you can begin to challenge those beliefs. For example, people won’t like me if I don’t do what they want. Or, people will take advantage if I do things for them. These are blanket statements that may apply to some people, but not all, and may have resulted from unfortunate experiences with a few bad apples that led to this being accepted as your truth.
Shifting boundaries to a place of nurture
Instead, you can give yourself permission to “read” people and decide if they are worth your trust. Over time you will begin to say “Yes” only to the things that align with your soul’s purpose and “No” to the things that take you from it. You will have more confidence and conviction in your choices as you will be fully committed to what you are asking of yourself. When you respond in this way, your interactions will be nurturing of yourself as well as those you are sharing it with.