Boundaries: Why You Say Yes When You Really Mean No

Has this happened to you? Someone requests something of you, and you automatically say yes, though you realize a moment later it might not have been the best decision to make.

Maybe a friend needs a favor, and even though you are drowning in work and very tired, you agree to take on more responsibilities just to help them out.

So, you have already accepted to help out, and suddenly, your mind goes crazy. You think back on how you have related to this individual in the past. You needed help and they couldn’t help. You helped and instead of appreciating, they complained.

Naturally, you start thinking of ways to get out of this problem you have gotten yourself into. But also, you are someone who likes to keep your word. So, you feel resentful. You feel used. You promise yourself that to avoid this in the future, your relationship with this person will have to come to an end.

But will that really work? Having people respect your boundaries is not your strong suit, is it?

That’s the thing. They are not the problem – you are. You should have had boundaries in the first place.

And it’s not as hard as it sounds. You just have to stick to saying yes when you truly mean it. But how do you know you really mean the yes you are saying? It should come from your entire body. You should not have to hesitate or doubt or worry about what will happen next.

It might also help to know why you say yes when you really mean no. For instance,

1. You hate upsetting other people

You are afraid that if you tell someone no, they will get upset, and that is something you are trying to avoid.

2. You think saying no will mean losing that person

Maybe you fear that saying no to this person will make it look like you have rejected or abandoned them.

3. You believe in the golden rule

The golden rule is that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But if you often find yourself in the situations described here, odds are that you are very independent and don’t typically run to others for assistance. That is why people come to you for help.

4. You’re the caregiver type

In other words, you like to save people from problems. People come to you when they need someone to rescue them and you help them out every time.

5. You respect your word

While this is a great virtue, it makes it hard for you to change your mind, even when you should. To avoid feeling like you are a liar, you put yourself through situations you don’t like.

Being put on the spot makes it harder for us to define our boundaries. In our attempts to appease the person giving us their attention, we agree to things without meaning to.

But failure to have boundaries lets other people force us into situations that make us resent them. As long as you think having boundaries makes you rude, the wrong people will continue to put demands on you and you will end up resenting them.

You also need to stop equating having boundaries with lack of compassion. Instead, see it as a way to have self-respect. After all, you wouldn’t go around imposing responsibilities on people if it would make them uncomfortable.

Before anyone can respect you, you have to respect yourself first.

So, don’t be in a rush to give a response the next time someone asks you for a favor. Take your time and think it over and then give an answer you will not regret.

It’s okay to be honest about what’s not okay and what is.