On Setting Boundaries: "NO" is a Complete Sentence

authors boundaries just say no wax poetic Sep 01, 2022

by Sheila VanZile, Author

"No" is a complete sentence.

Doesn’t require justification, doesn’t need explanation, it can simply be.

How many times in your life have you wanted to say a simple “no” to a request or a demand, and found yourself agreeing in spite of your resistance to accept, comply, or acquiesce?

How many times have you agreed to a course of action or life direction that is completely in conflict with your wants and desires?

And, if you’re like me, how many times were you, in retrospect, completely unaware that you even had conflicting wants or desires?

For me, this was a core issue in continuing to nurture a life of “shoulds”. Saying “no” just wasn’t an option if the “yes” followed the should path. I didn’t even try to negotiate a lesser sentence. And I say “sentence” because it is a bit like serving time in prison. Held hostage by the unintended decisions of our lives that have built themselves into a barred cell.

If you’re still saying “yes” when you know you should be saying “no” to the path your life is taking, perhaps it’s time to shift gears. Make a prison break, burn the boats, take a stand.

Scary to think about? It was for me! And until I started taking action, I was trapped, frozen in place.

Today, when I am asked to do something, I take time to not answer reflexively.

I try not to respond on autopilot, because inevitably when I do, I fall into old patterns of behavior. I let others shape my path. Today, I take the litmus test of “Do I WANT to respond yes?”, and if that answer is “No”, then that is my answer.

Mostly, I do try to be polite about it. “No, thank you, I have retired from board work and raising money for non-profits”. “No, thank you, I already have plans that day/lunchtime/evening”. “No, thank you, I do not want to split the eggplant appetizer with you". "No, thank you,......(insert your polite release from a should request here)”.

And, sometimes my “no” response is simply no response.

For someone like me that was completely schooled in polite, compliant social behavior and fully integrated into structured society, that one is truly the hardest to embrace. But sometimes I just let silence sit.

  • Will you experience anxiety when you stick your toe into the “No” waters? Absolutely!
  • Will you lose a few folks when you are true to your wants? Yes, you will.
  • Will you miss them? Probably not.

What’s waiting for you when you say “no”? The exact opposite of what you are now living when you continue to say “yes” to every should that is still in your life.

It’s time to pick the locks of your prison, open the door wide, punch the guard that is standing in your way, and stride out into the sunlight.

Say “YES” to "NO"!

I’ll be waiting to welcome you! (Just don't ask me to split the eggplant appetizer with you......it's a texture thing.)

If living the “should” life betrays your good life, my book My Waterfall of Awakening can show you how to triumph! Check out the Guided Journal aspect of the book - 38 lessons are included to help you chart your journey.

Sheila VanZile, author of My Waterfall of Awakening, How Loss Can Bring You Home to the Life You Want, is the oldest of two children born to a withholding, distant mother and alcoholic father. Sheila's drive for love through perfection led her to strive to become a concert pianist, but she landed in the corporate world overworking for over 40 years instead of pursuing her passion for music.

At 60, she emerged from her mother’s death committed to deliberately reshaping her life. Sheila's hope is to deliver the message that it is never too late to live a life faithful to your true self.


What you don't know about Jim Crow

by Sally Hendrick

Two little girls in rural West Tennessee are best friends but only in secret. Separated by a cotton field, their lives couldn't be any more different. Sudie's and Mabie's friendship, beautiful yet tragic, leaves a mark for generations to come.

Sally takes you on a journey back in time to the early 1900's Jim Crow South, as she imagines what life was like for her grandmother, Sudie, weaving together memories from her own childhood and stories from her family, even the black women who raised her.

Coming someday soon. Please enjoy this chapter for now.

Read a chapter for free