The Art of Saying No After 60: Set Boundaries and Free Yourself from Guilt
Why do so many women, often at about 50 years of age, lose the ability to say “no” without making excuses or providing an explanation? Are we so indoctrinated with the belief that our purpose is to serve others? Do we not understand that unless we serve ourselves first, we lose the ability to serve others?
One of my favourite sayings is, “Give to yourself constantly and you can give to others endlessly.” Think about it for a second; how true are these words for you? Do you give to yourself constantly? If not, why not? How can you give to others if your heart is closed?
We all become tired and worn down over time if we fail to replenish our spirit and body. How much better would your relationships and friendships be – on every level – if you were constantly refreshing yourself?
How No is Replaced by the Desire to Please
When we are children, no is one of the first words in our vocabulary; watch any toddler and you will see no used almost indiscriminately! But as we grow older, we are taught it’s unacceptable to be so forthright. Freedom to say no is replaced by the desire to please. We even dumb ourselves down to please others. You can read my blog!
If you wish you could be assertive and stand up for yourself, speak your truth and do what is right for you and be guilt-free, when do you start?
I believe you start by establishing your boundaries, something that seems to cause consternation to most women. If this causes you a problem, think of yourself as the Princess in the Tower surrounded by a wall of thorns. Nobody breaches the wall unless you choose to let them do so. You’re maintaining your privacy and the right to respond to others as you choose, to keep a comfortable space between you and them where you feel relaxed.
Here are some suggestions for establishing clear boundaries.
Establish What’s Important to You
Be clear on your values and you’ll be able to make decisions based on what you want, rather than living with the expectations of others.
Base Your Boundaries on Your Self-awareness
Be clear on who you are and, more importantly, who you aren’t! Understand yourself enough to work out what you want to do and how close you want people to be; physically and emotionally.
Be Flexible with Your Boundaries
Stay open-minded and keep an eye open for the possibilities for growth and learning offered by new opportunities. This is one instance in which saying no may prevent growth.
Use Your Intuition
When you allow your intuition – your sixth sense, your gut – to take over, setting boundaries becomes a simple process. If you don’t work regularly with your intuition or don’t believe you have intuition (huh?!), become aware of how you feel and react to different people and situations. This is one of the best ways of establishing boundaries and saying no.
Boundaries may cause guilt. It’s the sense of letting people down and it isn’t uncommon. Whatever you decide will upset some and frustrate others. Stick with your decisions. In the end, it will be best for everyone!
The Benefits of Saying No
Your priorities take precedence over those of others. You will no longer have your time crowded by acquaintances.
Yes, you will finally have the time for rest and recovery. You will no longer be frustrated and stressed by trying to do things for everyone else
You will be able to say yes to the important things.
It’s wise to remember that saying No requires no explanation. Saying no empowers you to make the decisions you want; it’s all about you! Until you learn to adopt the attitude that goes with the saying, you will continue to be drained by others. Keep saying it to yourself and out loud. You’ll know when you believe it! It’s definitely an Aha moment!
Do you find it hard to say no to people, even when your own happiness is at stake? How do you find the right balance between helping others and helping yourself? Please join the conversation.
Penelope Jane Whiteley is the self-appointed Queen of Aging Disgracefully. She helps other women to live their life on their own terms, to be true to themselves, to do and say what they want, to stop living within other people’s expectations and to abandon the quest for perfection with apologies to nobody. Please follow her on Twitter @the_pjwhiteley.