Why This Year We Are Setting Our “No Years Resolutions”
The dreaded New Year’s resolutions. The time of year when we feel pressured to make a change. It has become ingrained in us to be critical of ourselves, thinking we should weigh less, exercise more, and constantly strive to get better. But what if we said no? NO to more work, extreme dieting, and around-the-clock workouts. Instead of setting goals for ourselves, we are setting boundaries!
Boundaries, instead of resolutions
Boundaries is a major buzzword, but how do we know that we are setting a boundary instead of simply being defensive about our choices? A boundary is a line we draw concerning how we spend our time and are treated by others. Essentially, it is about defining our comfort level around others and adhering to that, like a personal code.
Boundaries can exist in a variety of settings and fall into different categories. They can be in place at work, with friends and family, in social situations, or at home. There are emotional boundaries (protecting your emotional well-being), physical boundaries (protecting your physical space), material boundaries (protecting your belongings) and time boundaries (safeguarding the use and misuse of your time).
Boundaries are a great way to clarify what behaviour you accept from others and what behaviour others can expect from you. Without getting too heavy, ignoring our needs leads to disconnection with self and can cause depression. Setting boundaries is a positive way to identify and connect with your needs, wants, and desires. It is a way to value and respect yourself.
Why it is hard to say NO
How often have you heard: help others before you help yourself, being a good person means being kind and generous, be a team player, or it is not polite to say no? Regardless of your upbringing, you likely didn’t have boundaries taught to you at home. We live in a culture of saying ‘yes,’ taking on more and working around the clock. Saying ‘no’ and setting boundaries are challenging when it hasn’t been done before. All new things are challenging, and it might take a bit of practice. Having embraced personal growth, being open to new challenges, and being part of our Reflex community, we know you can master boundaries, too.
Saying NO without the guilt
Recall a time when a friend asked you to do something you didn’t want to do, but you did it anyway. Or when you were in a situation that made you uncomfortable, but you didn’t leave or speak up. The after-effects of being in these situations most likely led to resentment, anxiousness, anger, guilt, or judgement (of yourself and others). In the past, saying ‘yes’ has been challenging. Even though saying ‘no’ might leave you feeling guilty, it is possible, and you can do it!
Knowing yourself better is essential to setting and following boundaries. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I like to spend my time?
- What do I care most about in life?
- What are my values?
- What motivates me?
- What do I want this year to look like?
Boundaries is just a fancy term for prioritizing what is most important. When you are clear on your goals and commitments, letting go of what doesn’t fit is much easier.
How to set a boundary
- Take time for self-reflection. Dig into the above questions. Write out your answers or discuss them with a trusted friend.
- Start small. Like any new exercise, you want to ease into it and gradually build that muscle. It will help you feel less overwhelmed and pressured to accomplish everything at once. Examples of boundaries include:
- Not working on the weekends or after 6 pm during the week
- Not checking social media every time you’re bored
- Not eating take-out more than twice a week
- Going to bed by 10 pm.
- You cannot change other people’s behaviour. This one can be tricky but setting a boundary is about developing your own rules and priorities. It’s about being responsible for your needs, not changing someone else’s actions.
- Communicate. Be direct and respectful. Having boundaries at work may look different than with friends and family. At work, if you are likely to give a quick ‘yes’ at the moment, practice these phrases:
- I need to think about it. I will let you know later today.
- I will check my calendar and get back to you.
- Let me see if I have time for that. I’ll get back to you tomorrow
It may be easier to be vulnerable or share how you’re feeling with a friend. Ask their permission: I have something I want to discuss that is tricky for me. Are you up for it?
- Celebrate your wins. Be your biggest champion! Saying ‘no’ is a big deal; you are changing old habits and putting yourself first. Practice compassionate inner dialogue.
Having firm boundaries limits your exposure to stress and the body’s production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. It protects your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Here’s to your vitality, health, and holistic well-being this year. Cheers to 2023.