My name is Jessica and I’m an introvert.
And a people-pleaser.
And a hardcore avoider of confrontation.
So as you can imagine, I have a little trouble asserting boundaries.
I’ve been this way my whole life. I’m the girl who has bought entire outfits (complete with ‘up-sold’ accessories), who’s babysat (for free!) the night before a big exam, who’s helped someone move house while running a fever and who’s stayed in relationships months past their due date, all because I was afraid of disappointing or offending someone.
Basically, I’m just the classic introvert that struggles to say no.
This trait has had a big impact on my working life.
It was annoying enough when I was in the corporate world, but as soon as I started running my own business, it became apparent that this was something that required pretty urgent attention.
See, when you don’t stand up for your boundaries and learn to say no, you end up taking on a whole lot of commitments that you don’t want to. Which for me, meant taking on way too many clients with way too short deadlines. Life began to get very busy very quickly, and I found myself seriously overwhelmed and filled with resentment – to the point where my work, my health, my relationships and my energy all began to suffer…
All because I couldn’t say no.
Something had to change.
After a few too many weeks months of 2am tears and hardcore stress, I realised that the only person who had the power to change the way my working life was unfolding was me. And the only way I was going to be able to turn things around was by actively saying no to projects and commitments that did not align with where I wanted to be…
I had to start saying ‘hell yes’ to myself by saying ‘no’ to other people.
It was tough at first. Hell, it’s still tough at times. But today I wanted to share with you a few things that have massively helped me to turn the tide and start successfully asserting my own boundaries. Without further ado, this is my introvert’s guide to saying no…
1. Get clear on what your values and priorities are.
Whether it’s to finish your new book, get yourself back in shape or spend more time with your partner, get crystal clear on what’s important to you.
The purpose of this step is not to equip you with an excuse (you don’t need to articulate your priorities to others, although you can if you want to) it’s actually just to help you get clear on what you want and why. So many introverts lose track of their own interests when they encounter the powerful force field of someone else. Taking the time to hone in on your truth helps you avoid being swept along by whatever current happens to be swirling around you.
2. Choose to honour yourself at the risk of disappointing others.
The act of saying no and asserting your boundaries is the ultimate act of self-empowerment. Sure, you might let some people down, but by saying no anyway – even if you DO disappoint someone – you’re choosing self-love over everything else. That, my friends, is a pretty kick-ass way to live.
3. Choose discomfort over resentment.
Most introverts will do anything they can to avoid awkward exchanges and difficult conversations. (#RaisesOwnHand).
By consciously choosing to experience short-term discomfort, you are bypassing the long-term (and far more destructive) feeling of resentment, which is SO much better for your health and wellbeing.
And besides, as even the most seasoned people-pleaser can attest, those awkward conversations almost never turn out as bad as you think they will.
4. Know that most people will not bat an eye-lid.
It’s true – those with healthy boundaries themselves will accept your decision without question. Our own projected fears are usually what keep us trapped, not the actual reactions of other people.
5. Stand firm and respect your own boundaries.
We teach other people how to treat us. If you say no, but then waver and retreat at the first sign of being tested, you’ve showed the other person that you’re willing to sway and bend. Of course, it’s great to be flexible when the situation warrants it, but if something is important to you, kindly but firmly maintain your position – no matter what reasons are thrown at you.
Are you an introvert that struggles to say no? Or a recovering (or not-so-recovering) people-pleaser? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for asserting your boundaries in the comments below!