Part of the trouble of growing up in an addicted family is not being allowed to establish your boundaries or not have them respected. People who are in active addiction do not have the emotional capacity to set their own boundaries, let alone respect someone else’s. That means that often times the word “no” is not heard or respected and thus, can become really hard to say. Conversely, the harder it is to say “no” has a direct relationship usually with hearing the word “no”. Poor boundaries in family of origin = poor boundaries in life.
I am guilty of this battle with the proverbial “n” word as well. As a young adult, I had a lot of trouble with rules and structure. In fact, I believe I still hold the record for the most parking tickets on UNCA’s campus. I remember the police chief calling me and telling me that I was going to have to learn to follow rules and respect boundaries. Yeah, ok!
So, why is it so damn hard to hear no and to say no? Well, in order to say no, we have to have something that we are saying “yes” to at the same time. A lot of times, it is that part of the equation that is the hardest. Sometimes that “yes” is something amazing but, scary and unknown. Sometimes we don’t believe that we are worthy of the thing we are saying yes to so we can’t say no. This happens a lot when we try to set boundaries with people. It is easier to appease and gain approval than to face conflict and say “yes” to ourselves in some way.
My favorite litness test is from Rosie Molinary, who wrote ‘Beautiful you’ “if it’s not a hell yes, it is an immediate no”. I like this because often our gut or our intuition knows what is really best for us. Listening to it if often the hardest part.
Some boundary setting tips:
Notice if you are feeling angry, resentful, or exhausted. These feelings usually serve as red flags that a boundary may be in order
Focus on self care. Sometimes in setting boundaries, the thing we have to really do is give to ourselves what we are hoping to get from someone else.
Write it out! If you are feeling nervous about saying “no” to something, write it down first. See what feels necessary and kind and also direct. The word “no” can be firm and kind at the same time.
try it out. See what happens. Keep me posted! buy Rosie's book here
***Disclaimer: This blog post is solely the opinion of the author. It is not a substitute for mental health services nor does it constitute a professional relationship. If you are seeking mental health services, please contact a therapist in your area. If you are experiencing and emergency, please dial 911***