By Anna Larson
Guest Blogger &
I took a look at my calendar and realized it was overloaded with commitments. In short, I’d overextended myself… again. I had given my spouse a scratch-off date night card pack. He was excited to plan our first adventure together. Finding time to spend with him considering my overcommitted calendar was frustrating and disappointing. Date night was postponed and the date night card pack was put away until we, “weren’t so busy.”
I know I’m not alone in saying, “yes” far too often, but why do we do this to ourselves?
Military spouses joke about the “volunt-told” activities we agree to at each duty station. We are what powers the military community that we count on to also support us. That heavy responsibility makes saying the word “no” difficult. Sometimes it’s because we feel responsible for the outcome, and no one else will step up to get it done. Sometimes we think it’s a great idea or is something we want to do. Sometimes we get guilted into it and fear disappointing others.
Regardless of the reasons, overextending ourselves creates unnecessary stress and anxiety — something no military spouse needs more of in their life! We have a finite amount of time, energy, and emotional capacity. It’s up to us
to set healthy boundaries and make sure that personal currency is being used in the best way possible.
Healthy boundaries are invisible lines we draw to protect our personal needs. They keep us from being emotionally and physically drained and stop us from being manipulated or used by others. When we say “yes” to something it means we are saying “no” to something else. For me, it was date night that went into the trash bin. My decision to say yes to other things disallowed me to do something that I wanted, was good for my relationship, and would have helped restore and recharge my emotional health. Boundaries remind us where our priorities need to lie and how that personal currency should be spent.
Changing My Ways
We just started a brand new year and I made a resolution to put healthy boundaries in place.
Step one was to decide what a healthy boundary looked like for me. I started by drawing a boundary circle on a piece of paper. I wrote down all the things I spend my time doing that make me happy on the inside of the circle and all the things that suck my time and make me feel stressed on the outside.
This visual representation allowed me to define the areas I needed to set boundaries. I couldn’t erase all of those stressful areas, but I could make sure they were accomplished on my terms and set parameters that allowed me to meet my needs.
You Have to Say Boundaries Out Loud
To make boundaries stick you have to communicate them with those asking for your time and energy. I found these 59 phrases helpful in using the right words to have my boundaries respected and created a few phrases of my own for requests that I get often.
My personal favorite right now is, “Thank you for thinking I’m the right person for this [task], but I’m saying no because I’ve already committed to other things that would keep me from putting 100% toward it.”
If saying, “no” hurts your relationship with the asker, there is an imbalance in your relationship that needs to be explored. If you’re unsure if it’s something you want to commit to then ask for time to think about it and have the conversation at a later time when you are more clear on how this impacts you and your family.
Date Night Is Back On
Since taking the time to self-reflect and create healthy boundaries for myself, I’m excited to say that date night is back on and scheduled! Learning to say, “no” and sticking with that decision is why I’ve got exciting plans for a double date with a progressive dinner feel.
Are you ready to set healthy boundaries? Start with creating your own boundary circle and creating a visual of how you are prioritizing your life. Even that one simple step will make a difference the next time you feel pressure to say, “yes.”
About Anna Larson
Anna is a copywriter and digital marketing strategist, and owner of NomadAbout, a digital marketing strategies company that helps entrepreneurs and other business owners showcase their organizations through social media, websites, and marketing campaigns what they are passionate about and how they do it better than anyone else. She is active in the military community, co-hosting a weekly business-oriented livestream and co-leading the Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood) Cha Chapter of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs.
Europe, Africa, and the United States, her family made the leap into military retirement. Anna is also a SpouseLink Ambassador with two kids and two dogs. She’s a long-time homeschool mom that loves dance parties, popcorn, camping, and snorkeling in the ocean. In her spare time, you’ll find her traveling the world with her family, relaxing around a fire pit, or on a long walk with her pups.