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Relationships and Boundaries – Why it can be challenging sometimes to say NO

Relationships and Boundaries are strictly connected. Boundaries help us to define what we are comfortable with in our relationships and how we would like to be treated by others.

Setting boundaries is the ability to say NO when we are not happy with a certain behaviour, to stand up for ourselves, to avoid doing something that we don’t feel comfortable with just because it is hard saying how we feel; it means being able to express our needs without ending up doing what others expect us to do.

Relationships and the difficulty to express our needs

Sometimes it seems easier to make other people comfortable rather than explicitly state what we feel comfortable, or uncomfortable, with. Why is it so difficult to make our needs clear in romantic and non-romantic personal relationships?

The reasons I often hear in my practice are various, some people more than others prefer to avoid conflicts at any costs. They:

  • Are afraid that, by putting themselves first they will let people they love down, hurt them
  • Fear to be seen as rude or selfish and don’t want to face other’s reactions, possibly their rejection
  • Worry with the idea to have to deal with conflicts and to have to face the sense of guilt when the say no
  • Prefer to avoid the risk of not being liked or, even worse, abandoned

Understanding the reasons for our behaviours doesn’t make things less difficult but becoming aware of certain patterns gives us the opportunity to review our beliefs and assumptions and challenging them.

The power of Awareness

With more awareness and the ability to see things from different perspectives we might discover that there are new ways of handling these situations and express our needs. Understanding what we do and why we do it opens new doors and gives us the power to make different choices while handling challenging situations.


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