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For numerous reasons, many Stepmoms struggle with setting boundaries.
Sometimes it’s to avoid conflict, or because you’re constantly told you’re not their mother and to stop acting like you are.
Other times it’s done to secure your spot in the family.
The benefits of setting boundaries:
1. Improves your perception of others.
Research shows those who have firm boundaries are more likely to believe others are doing the best they can with the tools they have, even when their best is conniving and manipulative.Instead of being filled with anger, we’re filled with compassion.
2. Easier to empathize with those who try to hurt you.
You’re able to recognize an attack as a cry for help, instead of a personal attack. You get to choose if you respond to their cry or let it blow past you as you wish them well.
3. Better relationships
Resentment builds when you say “yes” and you really want to say “no”. Eventually, it boils over and we become passive aggressive towards the requestor.
We blame them for asking too much of us, when the truth is it’s our job to say no as we see fit.
Learning to say no allows relationships to thrive. It does away with resentment and increases your value in the eyes of others.
If you don’t respect yourself or your time enough to say no on occasion, neither will they.
9 strategies for saying no:
Learning to set boundaries is not as simple as learning to say no. If it was, we’d all be doing it.
It requires increasing your tolerance for discomfort, learning effective communication strategies, and increasing your self-worth.
1. Remember past successes
Saying no can be uncomfortable. Especially if we anticipate conflict as a result.Think of all the times others have said no to you and you simply accepted it. Nobody likes being told no, but we learn early on to accept it.Refer back to these successes to calm yourself before saying no.
2. Keep it simple and sweet.
It’s easy to cave under pressure when you’re new to saying no.I was so nervous the first time I bought my own car. I was 22 and on my own.
Before going into it, I established my boundaries. 3-500 over invoice, no more.
I walk in, I tell them what I want to pay. Of course, they return with a higher number. Multiple times.Each time I simply said “no thank you”. Over and over.
Eventually, they met my price.Some simple responses are “No, thank you”, “Sorry, I can’t”, or ” Unfortunately, I have a prior commitment”.
If they keep pressing you, simply repeat yourself in a calm, kind voice.
3. Delay your response
Saying no can be uncomfortable. Buy yourself time if you’re tempted to choose resentment over discomfort. Lines such as these can come in handy:”I’ll check my calendar and get back to you”
“I’ll think about it and get back to you”” I’ll check with so and so and let you know”
4. Be aware of the harshness bias
We’re inclined to believe others will judge us more harshly than they actually do.
The worst consequence to saying no is how harshly we judge ourselves. We get busy fabricating hard feelings when the requestor is laid back, sipping on gin and juice (Snoop Dogg jus JUST asked me for a favor the other day).
5. Be nice. To you.
From the moment you learned the word no, well intended adults pounced on you with “be nice” or “be a good little girl”.
I’m all for being nice. But be nice to you!
Your time and energy is just as worthy as Snoop Dogg’s time and energy. I mean, he probably gets paid more, but you know what I mean.
6. They’re used to hearing no. You’re just not used to saying no.
You’re not the first person to say no to them, and you won’t be the last.
This is especially true if you’re saying no to a guy once on the dating scene.
If a man is asking something of you, rest assured he’s had plenty of practice hearing no:
“No, it’s that time.”
“No, you’re too hairy.”
“No, I have a boyfriend.”
People quickly recover from being told no. It’s uncomfortable for you, because you’re not used to saying no. They will be just fine.
7. Create an alter ego
If you have a hard time putting yourself first, create an alter ego. Take care of her as if she was your child.
Crazy. I knowwww. But we’ve all got a little crazy in us. Make your crazy work for you.
Beyonce was scared to go on stage so she sent Sasha Fierce. Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez and many others have alter egos too. Learn from them.
If you’re uncomfortable saying no because you’d prefer a night in with a book, tell them “sorry, I already have plans with ‘insert alter ego’s name‘”.
8. Eliminate guilt
When you say no to one person, you’re saying yes to someone else.
Instead of focusing on saying no, remind yourself who or what you’re saying yes to.
Saying no to picking up your stepkids from practice may be a yes to 30 minutes of more sanity saving alone time for you. Or a yes to a client you’re making progress for.
9. Start slow
If you’ve been saying yes for years, perhaps you’re not ready to start saying no when the stakes are high.
Practice with acquaintances or strangers, or in the McDonalds drive thru.
“Would you like to super size that?”
Keep practicing. You’ll get the hang of it.
To sum it up:
- Remember past successes. Lots of people say no in the world with no fall out.
- Keep it simple and sweet. And repetitive. No thank you, no thank you, no thank you.
- Delay your response. And then say no. Via text if you prefer.
- Be aware of the harshness bias. People aren’t judging you as harshly as you judge yourself.
- Be nice. To you.
- People are used to hearing no, you’re just not used to saying no.
- Create an alter ego and say yes to her.
- Do away with guilt. A no to one person is a yes to someone or something else.