The Power of ‘No, Thank you’

my god all the days we have lived thru

saying

not this

one, not this,

not now,

not yet, this week

doesn’t count, was lost, this month

was shit, what a year, it sucked,

Olena Katlytiak Davis, Not this

As 2023 approaches alarmingly quickly we are thrown into what can only be described as the resolution and list season. I will duck the temptation to share with you a list. I have however in recent years been exploring boundaries and it has brought to the fore for me the simple power of saying no.

No is the ultimate boundary enforcer. No indicates definitively that you are drawing a line. Boundaries are no boundaries unless they are enforced. Consistently saying no is the best way to know that your boundaries are working.

No allows room for counteroffers and changes, but it states a definite intent to decline as the starting point of the negotiation. Why not start any negotiation with your strongest hand?

Don’t worry about what you might lose, what others might think or the status involved in what you are declining. You are saying no for good reason, for a boundary you wilfully chose. That’s something worth fighting for. What you won’t do is as important, if not more so, as what you will.

I added ‘Thank you’ not just for politeness’ sake. I added thank you because the most insidious threats to your boundaries are those you actually want – the flattering, carefully crafted, tempting assaults upon your will. These threats demand politeness and gratitude to reflect how well crafted they are. Then they must be turned down like any other. The more exuberant your thanks the better it works to acknowledge and move on from manipulation.

We are accustomed to think of No as abrupt and potentially impolite. However the whole point of boundaries is to avoid being obliging for its own sake. No is clear and an unequivocal statement of your needs. Not acknowledging your boundaries and your needs is the height of rudeness (unless otherwise excused by some extreme life threatening emergency). The thank you is also a softener for our sensitive souls.

We have boundaries and we say no because time is limited. Choices have consequences. Every unnecessary choice harms our ability to do what matters more. Boundaries help contain the demanding, the ungrateful and the rude. Spend your time on what and with whom you prefer. That’s the only way to get the most from 2023.

So in 2023, when you get that queasy feeling, say ‘No, Thank you’ without further thought. Then dedicate your time and energy to what really matters.

I thought I had lost myself,

but I see it’s you that’s gone missing.

Elaine Equi, No other

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