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Have you ever struggled with setting healthy boundaries?
Have you said “no” but that filled you with anxiety? Or you felt guilty afterwards?
We can learn to give healthy “no” and “yes” responses. Here’s a way to say “no” differently; a way that is helpful and easy. (Really)
Learning to say “no” is important. In fact, the world needs us to say “no” more often. It needs us to create what we want, protect what we want, and powerfully change what no longer works, by saying healthy "yes" and healthy “no”.
Below you’ll find some solid principles on how to say “no,” taken straight out of William Ury’s book, The Power of a Positive No. Over the last thirty years he has helped millions of people, hundreds of organizations, and numerous countries at war reach satisfying agreements!
Before we get to that place of a healthy “no,” we need to understand the ways in which we might be giving an unhealthy “no”.
An unhealthy “no” shows up in three ways:
Can you think of a time when you wanted to say no to someone or something but don’t know how? What emotions do you feel? What physical symptoms do you experience? As you think about that situation, you might feel anxiety. The beginnings of a headache. Guilt. Defeat. These feelings are signals letting you know that you need to learn how to say a healthy “no”.
A healthy “no” centers on your values.
We feel these things because whatever uncomfortable situation we find ourselves in is typically a situation contrary to our values. We could define values as a GPS system that helps us remember where we’re going. Values are something we carry with us every single day to help us make our decisions. Values point us to our purpose in life. They’re unique to each of us. They’re what make us stretch and give or avoid and distance. Our values allow us to know what are true yeses and noes for US.
A healthy “no” follows a formula.
A healthy “no” involves three parts: yes, no, yes.
Let’s visualize this. Imagine a tree.
Sometimes we can experience some pushback to our positive “no” from a person who hasn’t learned to set healthy boundaries for themselves. If we waver in the face of their pushback, it’s a sign that we need to dig a little deeper and identify a more important value that supports our first yes. Once we identify our core values — the deep ones — we won’t waiver, feel guilty, or second-guess our positive “no.”
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