There is this very cool verse in the Bible that teaches about boundaries. It says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”
I first heard this verse when I was a young woman and I quickly ignored it. Why? Because at the time it had no relevance to me. It really wasn’t until I was knee deep in family stress because my kids were running amok that I realised that I really didn’t apply this principal to my life. I was boundariless and I needed to change.
The Value of Saying No
For those who are not yet liberated, there is real value in learning how to say no. People would ask me to do something and I would say, “No.” And then they would just look at me and I would say, “Okay.” I was that fickle in my choices, that swayed by other’s approval.
What this did was weaken me and cause me to disrespect myself and consequently allow others to disrespect me.
When my girls became teenagers I quickly realised that I needed to develop a firm no or I was in deep trouble.
Them: “Can I go and do this…”
Them: “Why not?”
Them: “Because why?”
Me: “Because I said.”
Them: “But why?”
Me: “Oh for goodness sake, why is it so important to you?”
Them: “Because you never …”
Me: “Oh for God’s sake, just go and give me some peace…”
So effectively, they questioned my authority, they questioned my ability to make a decision, they put me on a guilt trip by bringing up my shortcomings and I caved.
Anyone relate to this?
Or it was the friend who wanted something and they would give you the “Can you…” speech then they would just sit there looking at you with those sad eyes and I was always a goner. Guilt would consume me at the thought of saying no and even when it was completely inconvenient for me and my family I would say yes, then have to mop up the consequences.
It is no only the inability to say no and stick to no that is in question by this quote. It is also the other side of the coin – honouring your yes.
Honouring your Yes
When we lack boundaries with others we also lack boundaries with ourselves. How this translates is that we are unreliable when it comes to our commitments. We say yes, but what we really mean is yes, if it is convenient only. So we don’t really commit to the things we say yes to and consequently, we are consumed by guilt for failing to honour commitments.
Now can you see the value of this quote, the value of letting your yes be a definite yes and your no a definite no?
This another choice that we can choose to make in life and one that I would highly encourage you to consider adopting, as it is completely liberating to be able to say no and mean no and have your no heard by others. Initially it might shock them, but once you have established the boundary, it is simply a matter of reinforcing it a few times and people soon get the message about how you want to be treated.
It is also liberating to honour your commitments because a sense of accomplishment accompanies following through on what you say you are going to do.
There is another verse in the bible and it says, “A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways.” I think this adequately describes what life is like when you don’t have a definitive ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in your life.
To quote Master Shifu again,
“There is no try, only do or do not.”