August 26, 2019 at 06:42PM by CWC

My sister and I shared a bedroom throughout childhood. For the two of us, setting boundaries meant splitting our assigned chamber right down the middle—and screaming “Get out of my room!” when either of us dared step over the invisible line. Was it a flawed system? Absolutely. But the idea of carving out clear boundaries—no matter your age—is 100 percent necessary for both mental and physical health. That’s why  Nicole LePera, PhD, a holistic psychologist in Philadelphia, has a three-step plan for turning down an invitation that just doesn’t deserve the space on your calendar.

“This practice is extremely difficult. It’s something I still struggle with, but with time it really feels better and better,” she writes in a recent Instagram post. “Our natural impulse is to explain ourselves. We’ve been conditioned to do this.” Being the “yes” person ultimately doesn’t serve you, your mental health, or the people that you’re reluctantly grabbing avocado toast with. Sometimes, it pays to say “no, thanks.

“The truth is you CAN say no for absolutely no reason at all,” writes the psychologist. “We are not required to give any explanation. And, I’ve come to find out when setting boundaries the explanation is what gets the most pushback. That’s why the best thing to do when setting boundaries is to begin with a gracious statement and end with the no. A no cannot be debated.” Um, preach.

 

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This practice is extremely difficult. It’s something I still struggle with, but with time it really feels better and better. Our natural impulse is to explain ourselves. We’ve been conditioned to do this. I remember being around 13 years old and my mom helping me brain storm excused to get out of an event or out of sport practice. We’d literally rehearse a script together. My mom had great intentions— she didn’t want me to hurt anyone’s feelings or let anyone down. But, the indirect message I was learning was: you cannot say no without good reason. The truth is you CAN say no for absolutely no reason at all. We are not required to give any explanation. And, I’ve come to find out when setting boundaries the explanation is what gets the most pushback. That’s why the best thing to do when setting boundaries is to begin with a gracious statement and end with the no. A no cannot be debated. For example: Let’s say you say “ugh, I wish I could be I’m absolutely exhausted, it’s been a long week.” The response might be: “I know, I’m tired too. It will just be a few hours. It’s not like you’ll able to catch up on sleep at that time anyway.” Let’s say you say: “honestly, I rather not be there because a lot of my ex’s friends will be there and I’m not ready for that” The response might me: “that’s a good thing! You can dress up and look happy and he’ll be jealous” Let’s say you say: “thanks for the offer but I have the kids that weekend and want to spend some time with them. The response might me: “this is a great way for you to spend time with them at the beach!” If we end with a no statement, the person receiving the boundary has less ability to push back. And, by beginning with a statement of gratitude, it doesn’t feel like rejection. When I use this technique, I still feel the pull to explain. But it’s always received much better than an explanation. What’s your biggest struggle with boundaries? #selfhealers

A post shared by Dr. Nicole LePera (@the.holistic.psychologist) on

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3 steps to set boundaries when someone extends a social invitation that you’d, like, really like to refuse

1. Be gracious—without accepting the invitation. Dr. LePera suggests saying something like, “That sounds like an amazing time!” or “I really appreciate you inviting me!”

2. Decline with a “but,” followed by no explanation. Whatever you uttered in the first step should be followed by “but I won’t be able to make it,” says Dr. LePera. “Do not offer an excuse or reason. You can say ‘no’ without cause,” she emphasizes.

3. Come to terms with the fact that you said no“Not offering an excuse will feel very scary and awkward, but gets easier with practice,” she says.

Dr. LePera says that her own experience has made her realize that declining invitations works the best when it’s not followed up by an excuse, so make sure to keep your “no” short, sweet, and opaque. “If we end with a no statement, the person receiving the boundary has less ability to push back. And, by beginning with a statement of gratitude, it doesn’t feel like rejection. When I use this technique, I still feel the pull to explain. But it’s always received much better than an explanation,” she writes.

You don’t always “owe” an explanation to everyone. Remember that.

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Author Kells McPhillips | Well and Good
Selected by CWC

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