How to Set Healthy Boundaries – The Art of Saying No
Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece. ~ Ralph Charell (Tweet this)
In a world that has become increasingly more utilitarian and far less creative, where being busy is praised, and serenity of being is rejected. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to create healthy boundaries. Yet, doing the important and ignoring the trivial is perhaps the most effective way to live an inspired (and ultimately rewarding) life.
However, inspired isn’t good enough in today’s world. If we’re inspired without something immediately to show for it—typically in material or monetary value—we are cast out of society as the lazy. In result, we’ve found ourselves over-giving, and under-living. Our bodies inflamed and our spirits drained.
A few simple routine changes can put an end to the busy burdens society (and others) can dump on us. Learning to create healthy boundaries and the art of saying no to the unimportant things, so you can say “yes” to the things that excite your spirits, has never been needed as much as it is today. It’s time to stop taking spiritual abuse and reawaken to our creative nature.
Learning to judge
If we want to free the world, we have to start with ourselves. This means stop being a martyr and start being real about who is lifting us up and who is dragging us down out of their own irresponsibility. Judgment is not hate. Judgment is necessary for the wise and knowledgeable. If you don’t judge, then you have no substantive teachings to share with others.
Knowing a subject can help a student but how he uses that information is vital; wisdom is the application of knowledge. Considering we’re all students of life, judgment is needed universally as humans.
For example, you’re a physicist—you know how to make an atomic bomb. You have the knowledge, but do you make it knowing it can harm others or do you make it to win a war? There is the judgment where wisdom is found.
The principal offenders stopping you from creating healthy boundaries
Though at the core, we are all spiritual beings with good intent, many of us have had our souls trapped by the endless tasks and suppressions of modern living. Many of us never free our own souls because we’re too busy playing martyr to actually use our judgment to recognize when we’re being limited or suppressed by ourselves, tasks, individuals, or groups.
1. The Time Waster
These are the things that can be ignored with little or zero consequence. Common time wasters include:
- most discussions
- phone calls, and
- web browsing that serve no purpose other than to “kill time.”
Get out of the habit of killing time, and fast. There’s no past or future, you’re disillusioned if you think you’re killing time. There’s no other moment than the one you’re in. The only thing you’re wasting is the present, also known as your entire life.
Don’t do anything without meaning, only do that which is aligned with your highest self. While some situations and relationships are “dead cases” and need to be let go. There’s also nothing wrong with this and also, not every situation will be such a case. Make it your practice to be mindful of all you do.
Not every task has to produce profit. As the saying goes, “If you’re having fun, you’re not wasting time.”
You can start by frequently asking, “Does this stand for my highest self?” If it doesn’t, make it. This doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and run. Sometimes aligning a moment with your highest self means just dancing, laughing, or telling someone how you really feel.
2. The Time Consumer
It’s not hard to find something to consume time. Likened to time-wasters, time-consumers can be found in abundance in the modern world.
There’s a law of the universe that says, “Nature abhors a vacuum. ” Meaning, if you don’t create healthy boundaries, then anything and everything will come to fill your time for you. The universe fills all voids.
Time-consumers are often urgent, repetitive tasks or requests that need to be done but interrupt the important. Some familiar time consumers you may know of are;
- returning phone calls,
- replying to and checking messages,
- house chores, and
- most personal errands.
The best way to go about these unavoidable tasks is chunking. For example, rather than checking email thirty times a day, set two thirty-minute time slots aside specifically for email. Do all your errands on one day so you’re not constantly trying to squeeze things in.
There will always be room for improvisational spontaneity. Save it for the fun stuff, not for the mundane. Ultimately, we’re not trying to work harder but smarter. Stop the glorification of hard work and busy-ness. Start praising effective, intelligent work and fulfillment.
This goes for relationships as well. Drawing boundaries is as simple as knowing what’s important to you and communicating it. You don’t have to hold three-hour conversation with the desk-guy at the yoga studio to be a good person. Vice versa, if you really enjoy someone’s company then great—stay. The laundry can be done later.
3. The Validationator
Individuals that are unable to accomplish a task without first given permission can be a major spirit drain. It’s often a case of being micromanaged or worse, micromanaging someone else. Both of which end up becoming time-consumers.
The goal is to escape the feeling of having to be validated yourself, so eventually you can empower others too. In a few words, stop thinking and just do it. We learn best by having to produce a result, a product or service. Just like taking a shot at a physical target, we only need to aim for so long before we fire. If we’re off a few inches, the experience teaches us where we need to adjust.
First, free yourself of the need of being validated. Instead of asking for permission, just ask for forgiveness later if you mess up. In the long run, you are giving much more value by taking responsibility than spending your life seeking validation.
If you can become more self-determined, more responsible for your self, then you can spot others who are trying to get your validation. Handling the “validationators” then, is simple as giving the right kind of help.
The best help is that which eliminates the need for help. If someone needs money, teach him or her how to make it. If someone needs directions, don’t take them by the hand; teach them how to use Google Maps. In a few words, don’t seek validation, seek empowerment and then give it.
Increasing The Important, Decreasing The Unimportant
There is a law commonly known as The Law of 80/20, also known as Pareto’s Law. In short it states that 80% of our output comes from 20% of our input. Applying Pareto’s law can dramatically help us saying no to the unimportant, giving us room to say yes to the important.
Knowing what’s important to you—your purpose, core values and so on—makes it that much easier to create healthy boundaries and eliminate the above offenders. If you are struggling to create boundaries with others then perhaps you are still struggling to create boundaries for yourself.
These two questions will help you get clear on your core values, which will clear up your intentions and ultimately your communication.
- What 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
- What 20% of sources are causing 80% of my desired outcome and happiness?
Take a moment to reflect and see where you’re allowing these things to happen by simply not being clear about your own values. It’s okay if you’ve lost touch with them. The goal of this exercise is to step back into your values, or maybe even create some.
Forget Morals, Be Honest
When you are clear and honest with yourself, you are clear with others. Making it your personal mission to communicate your values. This is not selfish, it’s self-full. When you are aligned with your core values, you are taking responsibility for creating the beauty of your own life.
In this way, you are no longer dependent on someone else to create your life for you. You stop wasting time, getting stuck in habit, needing validation and you start living a beautiful life.
By doing so, boundaries ultimately dissolve; you just become a light of inspiration. You realize that by honestly communicating what’s important to you, by creating healthy boundaries and nourishing yourself, you give permission for others to do the same.