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What is Psychotherapy and Counselling? Part 4 - Start saying No!

A few weeks ago I wrote about Mindfulness and how we can do a playful exercise with a friend to check where our physical boundaries are. Some of us shout ‘Stop’ when our friend, pointing at us, is two or three feet away. Others are comfortable until our friend reaches a foot or even less from our face and then we say ‘Stop’.

In every group there are some of us who want to say ‘Stop’ at a particular point, but have difficulty doing that and often say nothing at all. Why is this relevant?

Remember those times when you ended babysitting for a friend even though it was your only free evening?

Or you ended up paying for dinner for the six of you as a friend said they’d forgotten to bring their wallet and never paid you back? Or you had Christmas at your mother-in-laws even though you promised yourself a quiet celebration at home? Or your boss who keeps on piling on the work? Or the friend who insist you have one more drink ‘for the road’? Or the partner who jokes publicly about something very personal to do with you?

The opportunities to say ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ are endless. They are matched by stories told me by my clients of when they failed to say ‘No’ and usually they said nothing at all. They did what was asked of them and felt bad afterwards. Sometimes very bad. Then guilty. And selfish.

Often they would beat themselves up for being ‘useless’ and ‘selfish’ all at the same time. If any of this reminds you of incidents in your life, this series of occasional posts about our emotional boundaries and how to ‘enforce’ them by saying ‘No’ will be for you.

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