How to use EFT to improve your personal boundaries – saying “no”

Increasing your effectiveness with EFT, part 43.

There are many ways to define what a personal boundary is. One definition that makes sense to me is that our personal boundaries, among other things, allow us to: say “no”, accept being told “no” in a graceful way, and avoid suffering trying to control the uncontrollable. Today I’ll talk about how to use EFT to improve our ability to say “no” to other people.

First of all, I just want to acknowledge that there are usually areas and people in our life to whom we have no difficulty saying “no”, and other areas and people where it’s more of a struggle. For example, if my phone rings and when I answer it I notice there’s a telemarketer on the other side of the line, I just hang up. I don’t want to waste neither my time nor theirs. However, in the past sometimes I’ve found it difficult to say no to a friend, a relative or a colleague. 

Sometimes our difficulties saying no may have to do with previous times when something bad happened as a result of having said no (maybe we were punished), and there might also be cultural factors at play. All of that being said, how can we use EFT to improve our ability to say “no”?

As we know, in order to make our tapping more targeted and effective, we want to go from the general issue (difficulty saying “no”) to specific events, whether they are past memories or future made up scenarios. I like to start with future made up scenarios and then tap on any related memories that might show up during or after a round of tapping.

So, the first question to ask ourselves is: “Who would we like to be able to say “no” to?”, “Is there anyone in particular?”. Maybe it’s a relative, a friend, a coworker or a client. Once we have someone in mind, here are 2 key questions that can quickly show us a “future event” we can start tapping on:

  1. “What could go wrong during the act of saying “no” to them?”. For example, maybe I imagine I’ll get so nervous I won’t be able to speak at all. Or I imagine the angry look on their face as they hear me say no. So, then I want to tap on how that makes me feel now when thinking about it. 
     A setup statement might sound like this: “Even though when I imagine the look on her face when I tell her I don’t want to drive her to the shopping mall next Friday, she will be so angry, that makes me feel really scared, and I feel this fear in my chest area, this is what I’m noticing right now”.

  2. “What could go wrong after saying “no” to them? In other words, what consequences might there be?”. For example, maybe they will give me the silent treatment for a whole week. So, then I want to tap on how that makes me feel now when thinking about it.
     A setup statement might sound like this: “Even though when I imagine the following day after saying “no” to his request, I walk into the kitchen and say hello, and he doesn’t respond anything, that makes me feel really sad, and I feel this sadness in my throat, I accept this is what I’m feeling right now”.

These 2 questions will provide us with possible “future events” that can be a great starting point for our tapping. Make note of any memories that arise as you are tapping on those future events, since they are probably connected to your difficulties with saying “no”.

A third useful question to ask ourselves might be: “Why does it feel like it’s not okay to say “no” to this person? Where did I learn that?”. Maybe you remember your parents telling you: “you should always do everything your grandmother tells you to do, she knows what’s best”. As you think about one of those times when they told you that, what feeling, emotion or sensation do you notice coming up for you now? That’s another event you can tap on. 

Or another way to tap on that might be something like this: “Even though, when I imagine saying “no” to my grandmother’s request to drive her to the shopping mall next Friday, I would be going against my parents wishes, and that makes me feel really guilty, and I feel this guilt in my solar plexus, and this is what I’m feeling right now”.

So, to recap, in order to improve our ability to say “no”, we can use EFT to diminish the unpleasant emotional charge that comes up when we imagine that moment of saying “no” to a particular person, or the aftermath/consequences of doing so. The more specific we can be with what we imagine, the better.

That’s it for today. I hope this article was helpful. My name is Bruno Sade, and I’m a certified EFT practitioner with a mental health background as a clinical psychologist licensed in Argentina. I use EFT as a tool to help people (who speak English or Spanish) change their negative emotional reactions.

And, I’d love to know: How would you use EFT to improve the ability to say “no” to other people? Do you have any questions or comments about what I wrote? Is there any particular topic you’d like me to write about? I’d love to know in the comments below. 

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