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Stone Wall

Defending The "No."

From Day 49: Learn To Say No
Britt Mahrer, MA, LPC

You have the right to say no... and the wisdom to know it won’t always be respected. 


Boundary violations happen, folks. Doesn’t even mean the person is a shithead, they may just be in an oblivious moment. But they happen anyway. No biggie, life is stuff like this. But if we’re going to say no, being able to say no to someone’s reaction to our first no is A SKILL. That’s a confusing sentence. I’ll put it differently- learn to defend your boundaries, preferably with as little fear/energy as possible. 


I like to think of a boundary as an actual wall- to get past it, some will try to climb over, some will try to burrow under. 


I had a great burrower the other day, I was ending my work with a client who needs bigger services than I offer- not once, but twice in the conversation (which had been planned and was on both our calendars as a “Next Steps” meeting) the client tried to slip under my boundary using bargaining, optimism, and compliments. For the record, I love this client- truly an incredible creature. But I’m learning how to kindly defend my boundaries, so each time I said no and reaffirmed the decision for enhanced care. It wasn’t until I pointed out their attempts that they were able to see them and stop, which they did immediately because they are awesome like that. 


If going under the wall is the covert boundary-violation, going over the wall is the direct attack. Anyone ever been afraid of someone because when you said no to them, they raged at you? You end up not even wanting to have a boundary, it hurts too much to defend it. Usually if you stay connected to this person, you become smaller and quieter. This is how I feel with Shubham. KIDDING! Almost-Spouse is a boundary celebrator. No’s are welcome in our home, even if they piss the other human off- I can be angry at you and not attack you. Think: more like a hot ember, less like a blowtorch. 


So yes. We must practice saying no. But we must also practice how to respond to the reactions to our no. As usual, life is exhausting. But we got this, creatures. 

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Stone Wall
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