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Do you sometimes finish a conversation or a phone call with a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction or even a sense of frustration? Did you say ‘yes’ to doing something when you actually did not want to do it whatsoever?

To know your boundaries and convey them in a clear way is essential to feeling good; otherwise anxiety levels can start to rise. For Generation Panic’ers (who often want to commit to everything and keep everyone happy) it may be hard to say ‘no’.

Can you handle a no?

Boundaries are based on what is important to you – your values and your beliefs. They define who we are and what we stand for. As boundaries are set in relation to others, they naturally affect our relationships. Often our boundaries play a strong(er) role when we interact with our closest relationships, like family members and good friends.

In these interactions, it can be challenging to stand up for your boundaries because we are keen to give in to the ones we love most. We would much rather please them than refuse offers or create a rift.

Often we are afraid that a conflict may arise or that we will not be liked as much anymore and we want to avoid that. But think about it, is it worth it? If something does not feel right or good for you, then the one who will suffer is you. It is time to respect your boundaries, and in doing so, respect yourself. If you can handle a no – then others can too.

Connect with your values

Connecting to your values will help you feel less anxious. Think about what is important to you and what you truly value. It might be easier to think of moments or times that have felt like a non-negotiable – i.e. you will do it anyway; you will stand up for something/ someone regardless of the consequences. If you are struggling with this, consider a time recently when you felt really frustrated with how someone interacted with you. Using this example, consider what values were being challenged?

For me, time is important. I try to be on time and I do not like it when people are late. For me, the value underpinning time is respect – if they respect me and my time and vice versa, then we will all be there when we say we will.

What are your key values and beliefs? This quick exercise can help you find out:

Toolbox: Circles

1. Draw a big circle on a piece of paper.

2. Inside the circle, write down words or symbols to represent your values (e.g., loyalty, honesty, consistency, freedom, kindness, etc.). Pop down anything that comes to mind

3. You could even draw an inner circle to put your core values in, those that you hold in the highest regard, such as love, dependability and commitment. The outside rim represents your boundaries. The clearer you are on where your limits are, the better.

Once you have made your circles, question what boundaries are currently being compromised in some way? And ask yourself, what do you want? NB – this is not what other people want!

Now it is time to tell other people what these boundaries are. By articulating your limits, you will feel less worried and more in control.

It takes practice to communicate your boundaries in an honest and open way. Try to say it in an clear manner: direct and factual, taking out the emotion, whilst still respecting the views of others. It can be by using phrases like “I feel..”, “I think..”, “Please..”, “Please don’t..” as examples.

Honour your values and work out what is important to you. When something does not feel right, take a moment to work out what is going on and why it is not right. And then communicate clearly, telling others what your limits are. You will feel better, I promise.