Boundaries can be really challenging, especially when you don’t know what to say. I’ve been working hard to practice my personal boundaries, so this is somthing I’ve had to practice a lot lately!
1. “I am not available, but thanks for asking!”
One of the biggest tricks I’ve learned to holding to my boundaries is not giving unnecessary explanations. Explanations give people who struggle to honor boundaries a foothold for debate, which leads them to challenging my boundaries and puts me on the defensive, which I shouldn’t have to do. This little gem eliminates that completely.
2. That isn’t something I am making time for right now.
Everyone has the same twenty four hours in a day, and if I spent all of my time on how other people thought I should, or on things people asked me to do, I would spend my whole life doing things that didn’t align with my values and priorities. I used to tell people I didn’t have time, which wasn’t strictly true. I did have the time, I just didn’t want to spend it doing that.
3. I am not making a decision on that right now
I use this all the time with my kids. When they ask me things that I just don’t have the bandwidth to answer, or when I don’t have enough information to make an informed decision, this phrase is my go-to.
4. I am not going to do that, but here’s what I can do…
I try to be careful with this one, because there are many times when it’s appropriate for us to just say no and to let it be at that. But sometimes when you truly want to help someone and their suggestion isn’t doable or reasonable for you and you
5. I’m going to say no for now, I’ll let you know if that changes!
For people who pester you or don’t like to take no for an answer, this is a perfect response. It leaves the ball in your court for changing your mind.
Tip: If someone has asked me for help with something and they insist they can’t do it without help after this response, I’ll usually say something like, “I understand, since I’m not available right now, I’d go ahead and find someone else who can. I don’t want you to sit around and wait on me to be available.”