Explanation Not Always Necessary: Drawing Boundaries

Young woman relaxing outsideWomen are caregivers and as such we become so entrenched in doing for others that we forget to take care of ourselves – especially emotionally.  Our children are inquisitive and are always asking “why, what, and how” so we are always answering those questions.  We teach them by explanation. But as adults there comes a time when explaining yourself turns into something else and it’s usually not healthy.

Having integrity means being true to yourself even when it doesn’t feel popular. Sometimes that means saying no (as opposed to saying yes to something you really don’t want to do) or, voicing an opinion that is opposite to everyone else’s.  If you’ve ever dealt with people who constantly demand explanations from you, it may be time to break some habits of your own.

In my Bolder Sister journey, I’ve discovered that I’m a “justifier”— someone who feels a need to constantly explain oneself and I’m finding that as I get older, it feels invasive and tiresome. Over the years I’ve realized that my ‘No’ is always followed by an explanation – “I can’t do this because …” As a result, people tend to expect or even demand a reason for whatever I do (or don’t do) when I haven’t offered one.  Interesting enough, they feel no need to offer any explanations for their own actions/choices or “no” and I, respectful of their boundaries, don’t ask them for one.

What that has taught (is teaching) me, is that my boundaries are not being respected and that I must now teach people how to respect them.  It’s a long and often painful process but well worth it if you care about those whose bad habits need correction -i.e. respecting your personal boundaries.

In doing that, I’ve begun to set limits on what I feel warrants an explanation and what doesn’t.  For instance, if I made a promise to do something and couldn’t produce, then I feel that an explanation is required.  That shows the person that I respect them and feel remorse for disappointing them.  On the other hand, if I’m asked to do something and decline (for whatever reason), then no explanation is necessary.  The answer is simply “no”.

No one has the right to demand from us what we don’t freely give.  It takes boldness to draw that line and it’s really not easy.  There is always the fear of losing friendships or upsetting family members but, in the long run, you can gain peace of mind and not always feel obligated to explain your actions and choices all the time.  Be bold and prosper!

Bolder Sisters, how do you deal with saying no?  Do you always offer explanations? Do you feel that you should?