Boundary setting is the greatest skill I’ve learned. I used to live raw with zagging, undefined edges. I was open, and I am still open, but I existed open in a way that left bits of me trailing in every footpath. Because I was warm, I had hangers on that trampled me. I was a bleeding bruise, always hurt because I never closed up my skin for just me to live in.
Empathy only works if we mark a bit off for ourselves. In the last 10 years I’ve learned to draw lines and honor them. To say no, to bar passage. To protect myself.
It took an effort to get used to prioritizing myself. I still struggle to do so. As a mother, wife, friend. As a person who always wants to support others, it is incredibly important that I keep in the practice of saying no while saying yes. Learning to say no means I get to say yes more often. Why? Because by protecting myself I strengthen myself. When it is time to give, I can give more because I have more.
It seems incongruous.
But doctors sterilize their hands before touching their patients. I shore up my heart before receiving another’s pain. Once it was fearful work–what if I was too closed off?–but now it is second nature. In fact, all this work I have done to be able to say no is a simple return to instinct. I am honoring my intuition. I am living consciously aware of my own needs and the needs of those I must tend versus the needs of those I want to tend.
What I have learned is that my giving is greatest when I meet my own needs first, and that prioritizing me is not selfish in any way. I no longer burn out or suffer because I carried more than I was capable of sustaining. There exists balance. Saying no does not mean turning my back; it means balancing my yes.
Do you practice saying no even though it feels unpopular?
This post is Day 2 of the 30 Day #LinkYourLife Challenge. Participate by finding the challenge here.