Setting healthy boundaries and expressing your needs assertively are all part of self-care and benefit you in the following ways:
Begin with identifying your own needs around space and time. How much time do you need for your own responsibilities, family, hobbies, relaxation, interests, social life, etc.? Where do you go to work, relax, catch your breath…? When you know what you need for your own space and time, you can start to express these needs to others.
Recognize the Value of Self-Care & the Harm in Constant People Pleasing. Practice affirmations that remind you of the importance of taking care of your own needs and how important it is to teach people how to treat you. Repeat daily: “People respect me when I respect myself.” “Saying no sometimes is healthy and necessary.” “I can be kind and assertive at the same time.”
Be Clear and Concise. Do Not Overexplain. When it comes to being assertive, less is more. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you cannot accommodate them. Being clear and to the point exudes confidence and leaves no room for negotiation. Example: “I am very sorry I won’t be able to attend your event on April 10th, I already have a prior commitment.”
Do Not Waiver. Honor what you need by sticking to the decisions you make. Be firm, clear, and do not be wishy-washy with your words. Words like maybe…or we’ll see…or if you can’t find anyone else…these words and phrases tell people that you aren’t committed to the NO you gave and that if they push a little harder, you are likely to give in. Assertive training teaches you to be clear, and repeat your same response if necessary. Example: “I am very sorry I won’t be able to help you that day; I hope you will be able to find someone else who can.” If you get asked again, repeat the same response again; don’t change it, and don’t waiver.
Stand up for yourself without putting anyone else down. You will be seen as an assertive person when you express your own needs firmly, kindly, and clearly. It is only when you begin putting someone else down, that you cross the line from assertive to aggressive. Assertive people respect themselves and others. Example. “I am not ok with being spoken to with that language and I want you to know that I am not someone who responds to threats. I want to do a good job and I work better in a positive environment.”
Be calm and kind. Being assertive is all about respecting others, being calm and empathetic. Many people keep themselves from being assertive because they associate it with being mean, or aggressive; this is not true at all. When you are assertive, you are calm, caring, and to the point. People who respect themselves gain the respect of others. Example: “I am sorry that I cannot attend your fundraiser in May. I wish you all the best and I hope the night is a great success.”
Pay attention to your Body Language. In addition to being calm and clear, you show confidence and self-respect by making eye contact, speaking loudly enough you can be heard, and holding your body open, erect and strong. If you speak too softly, avoid eye contact, and hunch your shoulders forward, you are telling people you are unsure about what you are saying, and it might be a green light for them to push harder so they can convince you to change your mind.
Teach others about healthy boundaries by respecting and sticking to your own. Example: “I do not book appointments Friday evenings; that is time I block off each week for my own family.” Knowing your own non-negotiables and sticking to them teaches others the importance of setting and maintaining their own healthy boundaries.
Strive for Balance. The word balance may be overused today, and yet it is what we need for our overall health and wellbeing. You can prevent yourself from feeling taken advantage of or overwhelmed, by looking at your schedule in advance and purposely blocking off time for self-care activities, family events, exercise, social activities, relaxation, and more. Once you’ve slotted those things in, you commit to sticking with your schedule, knowing you have a plan for balance in place.
Be self-aware & Listen to Your Intuition. Ask yourself if you are saying YES to something because you really want to do it, or if you are saying yes out of fear of saying no. Are you afraid to disappoint others, and often find yourself caught up in activities and obligations that leaving you feeling drained and resentful? When you hear that little voice inside of you that says “just say no…” listen to it and stop doing things you don’t want to do. You are the only one who can honor your needs and respect your time and energy.