Ok so not the most glamorous thing for you to be looking at, but if you’ve been listening to the podcast and reading this blog, you already know that boundaries are at the core of healthy. They determine where you end and others begin, and if you struggle to have healthy ones it WILL show out in your life.
There are many different signs that someone struggles to say no and hear no, but here are ten of them to get us started thinking about where we are. I think it’s almost more important to understand why each is a symptom, so you can get specific about changing it.
1. You’re Easily upset pissed off or overwhelmed, and basically reactive to situations and people.
Why: You aren’t saying no to others so now the shit has hit the fan because you have three things going on at once and feel overwhelmed and angry. By not honoring your feelings and what you needed, you’re paying for it now. This can also be a result of absorbing other peoples’ feelings, needs or crisis du jour, which forces you to abandon yours. Finally, it’s a sign of poor internal boundaries or self-discipline.
2. You struggle with social anxiety.
Why: You secretly think everyone can see inside of you, what’s wrong with you, and how insecure you feel, which is a boundary blur. Having poor boundaries = poor self-esteem struggle to be out with others. You’ve lost who you are and therefore need to retreat shut down pull away to feel safe. Lots of avoidance here.
3. You find yourself approval seeking and people pleasing.
Why: Your focus is outside of yourself – and on those around you that you either have a vested interested in managing or are afraid of their anger if you say no. It’s basically trying to manipulate outcomes so you can feel ok. This can look like chameleon behavior so you can easily blend in with others, regardless of your true thoughts and feelings. It means not saying no and AVOIDING anger and conflict. It means avoiding that unearned guilt – guilt that is irrational. I call it “UGA” Unearned Guilt Avoidance.
4. You often get Defensive because you fear another’s judgment of you.
Why: You are secretly worried about what people think of you, and of not being perfect, that you cannot tolerate dissent, disagreement, or criticism because it brings up tons of shame. You therefore want CONTROL of the outcome, such as convincing them it’s a lie, didn’t happen…look that their stuff it’s so much worse… We manipulate instead of hitting the wall of reality, of then detaching and realizing they have a right to think/feel/do and it doesn’t make you bad! The irony here is as much as you fear conflict you sure can create some toxic conflict in a nanosecond by being basically unapproachable.
5. You often feel victimized by others, what they do don’t do, by life, by events.
Why: It’s all unfair. You often don’t feel as though you have any personal power. Without detachment and boundaries there’s no way we can feel confident. Not when we negate who we are and our responsibility for your choices in situations, and for working toward acceptance of reality.
6. You dread making decisions.
Why: Over the years you’ve lost trust in yourself. When the moment hits you often go blank. Forget how to state what your “why”. If you often struggle with choosing an entrée from a restaurant menu then you know…This is a fear of either being PERFECT OR HORRIBLE…of Failing. Being wrong. More Unearned guilt and shame! Not being able to say no in your life helped to cause this.
7. you are often running late and procrastinating. Lots of financial drama.
Why: Preventable Chaos. You don’t do preventative things like scheduling ahead of time or maintenance on things so they are now breaking down. “Shiny things” are what you may gravitate to. You lack internal boundaries (Self-discipline) so it’s hard to be realistic about finite resources of time, money and energy.
8. You have difficulty doing deep grief work.
Why: Controlling the outcomes via avoidance, people pleasing, etc. is opposite of hitting the wall of realty and sitting with some awful feelings. Boundaries are all about detach and choose. Your focus is elsewhere…you may dive into work, focus on others. Medicate with substances, work, food, sex, a cause, a new relationship. Anything not to feel. Serial relationships or projects are a clue.
9. You are often tired all the time.
Why: Boundaries! Let’s face it – running around doing for everyone else and denying the self takes TONS of energy. All the while the other half of you is furious you’re doing this so there’s that internal fight. This can play out with mild depression and anxiety, along with other physical ailments. Most don’t sleep well with all the anxiety and going against the self. Hidden anger!
10. You are often resorting to passive aggressive behaviors.
Why: I know, no one wants to admit this, but think about it. If you’re not risking saying No in a loving way, then you would have to resort to PA behaviors, because needs are needs and we will get them met one way or another. We manipulate, rage, shut down and act out. We are not taking care of ourselves by saying no, letting go and sitting in realty…but we lash out at them.
These are just a few of the common signs, and there are many more. Before you dive under the shame pile for having one or two (or ten) of these, I encourage you to grab some compassion and understanding for yourself first. Remember you need some self-love mixed with some truth in order to make real changes. You might also need some help walking through it.
First, remember that if you don’t really feel confident enough to be assertive, then you will have to act some things out. This goes deeper to the loss of the real you. You had to perform, people please and avoid bad outcomes in order to be ok as a child. To be accepted. To be loved. You don’t know how to detach and negotiate or see others as equals just yet. You will, though, if you continue this work. So I encourage you to pick ONE symptom out, seek out what the healthy opposite looks like, and dive deep into the boundary work. If you do, you will see these symptoms begin to disappear.