When my children were 2 or 3 years old, I often felt like all I said was, “no.” Don’t touch that. No, that’s off limits. No we can’t have goldfish crackers for dinner (I lost that one). Over time I got tired of saying – and hearing – the word no all day long. I wanted to speak more positively, both for my kids and for me. It was more work to come up with something that they could do instead of something they could not, but it got easier with practice, and I definitely enjoyed being a mom a lot more.
These days, I hear the same kind of language from many of us when we talk about healthy living. When I hear my clients making goals for the weekend, they almost always start as lists of things we should not do: no doughnuts in the break room, no latte on the way to work, no sleeping in, no second glass of wine, no third glass of wine…we are all well aware of the things we should stop doing to create a healthier body.
Well, for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, and it is my opinion that when we say no to something, we are saying yes to something else.
When we say no to doughnuts, perhaps we say yes to getting off medication for diabetes. Saying no to sleeping in can mean saying yes to lower blood pressure because you’re getting more exercise. Saying no to that latte or wine means saying yes to calories that are nourishing and helpful (yes, I can also think of situations in which coffee and wine are very helpful, but you know what I mean).
It is true that we make sacrifices in order to change the course of our health, but many times what seems like a sacrifice is actually a trade-off. The key is in staying connected to the positive outcome of the change, and to acknowledge the benefit that you enjoy as a result of respecting your own boundaries.
Here are some ways you can stay connected to the benefits of your boundaries:
When we change how we see things, the things we see change. No doesn’t always mean no. This week, when you hear yourself saying no to unproductive choices that will sabotage your health, stop and ask to what you are actually saying yes.