Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

How to Set Awkward Boundaries: “No” is a Complete Sentence!

 
Judith Orloff - Friday, September 13, 2013

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s NY Times bestseller “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” and "Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love”

It may sometimes be awkward to set healthy boundaries with negative or draining people, but it is an important skill to learn. If someone has unrealistic expectations of you or unable to respect your feelings remember “No” is a complete sentence. A key to setting boundaries is to come from a centered, unemotional, place—not to be reactive. For example if someone has been saying disparaging comments about you, from a heartfelt center say, “Please don’t talk about me to others. It’s inappropriate and disrespectful.” Then refuse to argue about it, even if your buttons are pushed.

Here are some additional tips from my books, “Emotional Freedom” and "Positive Energy” to help you set boundaries, especially when it feels really awkward.

Dealing with an Emotional Drainer
If you meet someone and your energy starts bottoming out, don’t think twice about politely removing yourself from this killing interchange. One of my favorite foolproof lines is, “Excuse me; I really have to go to the bathroom.” Even the most intrepid vampire doesn’t have a counter-argument for that. It’s important that you move at least twenty feet from beyond the person’s energy field. Whenever your well-being feels at risk around certain people, make a tactful and swift exit. In a spot, physically extruding yourself is a sure, quick solution.

Dealing with a Constant Talker
The secret to dealing with a constant talker is knowing they don’t respond to nonverbal cues. You have no choice but to make your needs audible. Tone is especially critical with these vampires. They’re hypersensitive to rejection, which provokes them to ramp up their verbiage. So, with a constant talker try to be caring--these are wounded people!--but stay definite and neutral. Then, from a heart-center, set the parameters of your dialogue. Then you won’t be left limp, resentful, or forced into rudeness. You can politely say, “I’m a very quiet person, so excuse me for not talking a long time,” or “I feel left out when you dominate the conversation. I’d really appreciate a few minutes to talk too.”

Dealing with a Criticizer
If an intimate or co-worker keeps telling you how to deal with something, politely say, “I value your advice, but I really want to work through this myself.” You may need to remind the controller of your position several times, always in a kind, neutral tone. Repetition is key. Respectfully reiterating your stance over days or weeks will slowly recondition negative communication patterns and redefine the terms of the relationship. If you reach an impasse, agree to disagree. Then make the subject off limits.

Dealing with a Complainer
The moment you sense a complainer revving up, take a slow, deep breath to center yourself. Breathing is a wonderful way to quickly reconnect with your life force so their in-your-face intensity won’t sear into your energy field and cause burn-out. Keep concentrating on your breath. Tell yourself you know what’s happening, and you can handle it. As I remind my patients: you have power here. I know how easily we can lose it. But, when beset by this overheated drainer, you need to own that moment. Do so by letting your breath release tension and ground you. This will keep you from getting caught up in their story. Then lovingly tell them, “Our relationship is important to me, but it’s not helpful to keep feeling sorry for yourself. I can only listen for five minutes unless you’re ready to discuss solutions,” or “I’m really sorry that’s happening to you.” Then, after listening briefly, smile and say, “I’ll keep good thoughts for things to work out. I hope you understand, I’m on deadline and I must return to work.”

If you feel like you are being overwhelmed by a difficult person here are some strategies to help you gain control and become centered again.

  • When you feel attacked break eye contact to stop the transfer of negativity.
  • Use the breath to retrieve your life force. Let it function like a vacuum cleaner. With each inhalation visualize yourself power-suctioning back every drop of energy that’s being snatched from you. Keep inhaling until the job is done. Do this in the presence of a vampire or later on.
  • Exhale negative energy and stress out the back of your lower spine. There are spaces between your lumbar vertebrae, natural exit points for energy. Touch the area; get a feel for the anatomy. When toxicity accumulates, expel it through these spaces. Envision dark gunk leaving your body. Then breathe in fresh air and sunlight, a quick re-vitalizer.
  • Jump in a bath or shower to clear negativity and prevent further drain. If you are feeling particularly drained add Epson salts or sea salts to the water. If you are in the shower you can rub sea salt on your skin and then wash it off. Drink plenty of water to flush toxicity from your system too. Also you can burn sage where this vampire has been to purify every nook and cranny. (This works well in hotel rooms when a prior guest’s left-over energy feels uncomfortable, but use only a little so you don’t trigger the smoke alarm!)
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    Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

    Comments
    Bob commented on 18-Sep-2013 07:03 AM
    Thank you, thank you for the blog. My staff and I really need this help, outlined in this blog. Bob
    Betterlife commented on 26-Sep-2013 01:50 PM
    Saying "NO"is not a problem for me-it's how I say no to certain people. But,I've noticed I'm improving with being patient and as you say-lowering my expectations. Everyone does not think as I do and as long as I continue introspection,the less people and situations that once angered me can have the same effect. Anger has turned to humor. THANKS AGAIN DR.O FOR YOUR DEDICATION AND CONSISTENCY IN HELPING THE WORLD TO HEAL!!!! From your biggest fan!!!
    paulette commented on 04-Oct-2013 06:17 PM
    i could say no, but the people around me disregard my no, with lot of force.
    i have been working on this for years and i am getting better, for my peace and health, i had let go of the need i had for these relationships. i was not conscious how communication could affect my mood, my health ,my energy. I was living in a dream state, now that i am awake, i am still trying to work through the shock of my life.
    I love your youtube videos they are very helpful.
    I love you

    Martha S. Ginyard commented on 13-Oct-2013 05:30 AM
    No is something that we are so not used to of saying. This is really a sad thing considering that we are just people and we need to also attend to our needs. Without all of these things, we will end up hurting ourselves more. The art of saying no is difficult but also a must.
    Nina commented on 14-Oct-2013 11:27 PM
    Very lovely clear cut words of wisdom. I enjoyed this; I still don't know what to do about someone I don't like sleeping in my bed. I am very upset about it. I don't want this persons energy in my bed; I wish I could afford to give him the bed and buy another one; it costs $1,500.00 or more.

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