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SAY NO To Get What You Want! 5 easy ways to set boundaries.

In the movie “Yes Man,” Carl Allen (played by Jim Carrey) was desperate for change, was challenged to say ‘YES’ to every request that came his way. As a result, he put himself in situations that he wouldn’t usually enter. He got intimate with a very old lady, he got drunk the night before a big date and his friends abused his vulnerability. This leads the “Yes Man” to almost lose everything that was important to him as he allowed others to dictate and violate his rights.

Violation is when someone crosses your boundaries. As a result, you have this bad feeling that grows inside of you, and it keeps growing. While the sense of violation starts burning you from the inside, you then operate out of character. For example, you may start focusing on your anger towards that person/group, or, harbour these emotions and block others from getting close. In some cases, you change your goals or passion so you can avoid vulnerable situations. More importantly, it starts to change you and makes you do and say things that are not authentic to who you are.

Saying YES does allow you to have experiences that you wouldn’t normally have. However, not all experiences are necessary for your personal development. “YES” is a powerful word that allows connection, opportunities, and experiences to flow. But, this can only happen after you have learned to say NO.


  1. What do you want? Create clarity in what you want. It is important to make this part tangible. This needs to be something you can prove by using your five senses. You need to able to see, hear, taste, smell or touch the result. For example – if a promotion is what you are after then you can ‘see’ the new title after your name, or touch your new corner office, or hear the news of your promotion from your senior manager.

  2. Say NO. To say YES to what you want, you need to understand when to say NO. If you want to get fit, then you may need to say NO to big alcohol filled nights out, burgers and fries and unhealthy habits. Newtons 3rd law is "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." So, for every YES there is NO.

  3. Know Your Values - What do you Value? Are your values in alignment with what you want? If not, find out what values are necessary to achieve your desires. For example, Inspirational leaders hold high value to integrity, clarity, and courage. When leaders don’t display these values, they lose their following. I’m sure you can think of some leaders that have fallen by not showing these values, regardless of their mission.

  4. Notice your body – When someone is approaching or crossing your boundaries, your body will feel it before you are consciously aware of it. This may be a sick feeling in your gut when someone asks you to do something against your values or against what you want. If this happens, you will need to practice Step 2 and remind yourself of your goals and values.

  5. Be aware of your surroundings – This part is the most important step. Do the people around you respect you enough to honour your boundaries? Or do they push you to break them? Even if it’s ‘just for one night’? Being continuously protective of your boundaries can be exhausting when you have to say NO again and again to the same people.

Surround yourself with people that respect you and your boundaries, even if they don’t understand them. Surround yourself with people that will hold you accountable in moments of temptation. Surround yourself with people that will protect your boundaries when you are vulnerable – these people are called your allies – treasure them.

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