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  • Kerri Cummings

Nice Guys (and Girls) Finish Last, Ya'll: Master the Art of Saying "No" Without Guilt

Setting boundaries is like installing a protective force field around your sanity, and saying "no" is the superpower that activates it. However, many of us struggle with this seemingly simple task, fearing the dreaded G-word—guilt! But worry not, fellow boundary explorers, for I bring to you a simple guide to setting healthy boundaries and saying "no" without feeling like crap afterwards. So, buckle up, dear Mindfuls, and prepare to unleash your newfound boundary-setting prowess!

  1. Embrace the Power of Self-Awareness: First things first, dear friend: know thyself! Get in touch with your limits, desires, and priorities. Reflect on your boundaries and identify what truly matters to you. You can’t actually set boundaries if you don’t even know what yours ARE, right?!

  2. Practice saying those two little letters (NO): Channel your inner Shakespeare and master the eloquence of saying "no." Experiment with different tones, inflections, and facial expressions until you find your personal flair. Practice in front of the mirror if you need to. And remember: “No” is a full sentence.

  3. You’re FULL of Excuses: Develop a repertoire of excuses. As much as we strive for honesty, sometimes it's easier to employ a little white lie to soften the blow. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m caught in the moment and really want to to say No, I usually can’t lie that fast. So it really helps to create a repertoire of creative excuses like "Oh… I have a dentist appointment on that day.“ Whatever the excuses are, make sure you feel comfortable with them.

  4. Learn the Art of Delaying: If you're not quite ready to deliver a firm "no," or you haven’t yet created your repertoire of excuses (go do that!!), you can learn the noble art of delaying. Say something like, "Let me check my schedule and get back to you." It buys you time to evaluate the request and determine whether it aligns with your boundaries. Just remember to follow up promptly, or you might find yourself tangled in a web of unresolved obligations.

  5. Get Comfortable with Discomfort: Saying "no" might stir up a cocktail of uncomfortable emotions: guilt, anxiety, and a dash of self-doubt. Embrace the discomfort like a well-worn sweater. Remind yourself that saying "no" is an act of self-love, and any initial discomfort will soon fade away, leaving you feeling empowered and lighter.

  6. Offer Alternative Solutions: If the request comes from someone close to your heart, offer alternative solutions. Instead of a straight "no," provide options that work better for you. For instance, suggest an alternative date, time, or method. This way, you show your willingness to accommodate while maintaining your boundaries.

  7. Surround Yourself with Boundary-Supporting Allies: Find your tribe, those magical beings who understand the value of boundaries and support your journey. Spend time with people who respect your choices and inspire you to prioritize self-care. Often the people who have a problem with you setting boundaries are the ones who have profited from you having no boundaries in the first place.

  8. Practice Self-Compassion: Guilt may sometimes sneak in like a stealthy ninja, but combat it with self-compassion. Remind yourself that your time, energy, and well-being are precious resources. It's okay to put yourself first sometimes and prioritize your needs without feeling guilty about it.

  9. Be mindful in the moment: When you’re constantly in survival mode, there’s no way you’re going to be able to think on your feet in the moment. Most likely you’ll instantly fall back into old patterns of people pleasing. So try to stay present and aware in the moment. Yes, I’m going to say it, folks: Mindfulness is the best way to learn how to stay in the moment and be fully clear and calm. I see ya’ll in the back thinking I was going to write a post without mentioning mindfulness. You know I can’t help myself! 🤪

  10. Celebrate Your Boundaries: Every time you set a healthy boundary and say "no" without guilt, celebrate your achievement! Treat yourself to a small reward—a bubble bath, a slice of your favorite cake, or a dance party in your living room. Recognize the progress you've made and the positive impact it has on your well-being.

Setting healthy boundaries and saying "no" without guilt really is a skill worth mastering. Remember, it's not about being mean or selfish; it's about taking care of yourself and creating a harmonious balance in your life. Embrace the journey, embrace the discomfort, and unleash your inner boundary-setting superhero. Believe me: I admit I’m still not quite the superhero yet.

With practice, humor, and self-compassion, you'll (ahem… we’ll) become a master of saying "no" without breaking a sweat. So go forth, my boundary-setting champion, and let your force field of sanity shine!


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