Setting healthy boundaries after a breakup has taken on a new definition. With social media and modern technology, it seems like making a clean break is an impossible task. It’s all about how you do it that matters. We’ll explore how the power of “NO” is more important than ever when you want to forget and get on with your life.
Why you can’t let go
As I look back on my 20-year marriage and all of the signals that I ignored, it makes me wonder why I lasted so long. There were good times, of course, but the overall theme of badness was all pervasive.
I found my answer just last year, with my annual astrology check-in. I tried a new astrologer for a different perspective, and that’s what I got. He told me that I made a deal when I got married. Bingo! That I did.
I wanted children, and I knew on a subconscious level that my ex would be the one to give me healthy ones while providing a certain amount of financial security. Not much, but enough. The astrologer also told me that I did this at my peril. That was true.
I made a big sacrifice to my financial wellbeing, as we all do on some level when we bring children into this world. But after a specific time, I had options to leave but didn’t. Why? The astrologer told me that I was a masochist. Bingo again! My therapist will concur that I didn’t have healthy boundaries.
When you ignore the signs
Why did I stay in the marriage when it was so bad? I would justify behavior and ignore my feelings. I would say things like;” It isn’t all that bad” and “I have invested all these years, why would I quit now.” And it didn’t help when my parents and society just reinforced these beliefs that I should suffer regardless. “For better or for worse” or “You made your bed.” The best one came from my father, my fellow masochist, bless his soul. He said, “Would you divorce your children?” Gosh!
No wonder I had no sense of my boundaries. This thinking continued to affect my decisions with all future lovers after my divorce.
How to stop the ambiguity
I had a relationship that lasted only four months, but it took over a year later to finally cut all cords. And recently, two years later, I received a text from this lover, letting me know that he was thinking of me (submarining!). Deleting him from all accounts and my contacts didn’t seem to work.
And he isn’t the only one. I am continually getting little “check-in” texts from previous relationships that were a definite “NO Thank you.” Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in my language back then? Was I unconsciously saying “yes”? Did my body language say something different?
In “The Endless Breakup” article in Psychology today, Lisa A. Phillips describes the common practices of ghosting to orbiting and submarining in the online dating world. She explores how avoiding a breakup is easy, but only serves to keep us in anxiety and self-doubt with these practices.
She goes on to explain the most interesting observation about this new generation, which is that although there’s a push for more clarity of responsibility in sexual relations, that we are clinging to ambiguity in our romantic relationships. Hmmm. True that!
Her advice for “A GOOD END” is to have a relationship exit interview. Brilliant!
This way, you can limit the emotional torment that goes along with the ambiguity (is she/he coming back?) of a breakup. You have an opportunity to be kind and clear since you are in a stable state of mind and avoid the lashing out and “words that can’t be taken back.” And a breakup interview makes it clear that it is going to take place and allows everyone involved to start the “moving on” process.
There is clarity with this ending. But what about before this? How do you get clear that we should be ending it?
When the body says NO
Like in Gabor Mate’s book – ‘When The Body Says No”, we tend to ignore what our body is saying to us when we are in discomfort. He focuses on significant illnesses that appear after the body has been given warning signs for years. We can follow this philosophy for all disruptive matters of our lives, including a breakup.
Our body tells us when something isn’t right with a partner or lover. It tells us with small signals at first, such as headaches or allergies or backaches or chest issues. These are all signs that our immune system is compromised and this points to stress as the instigator. You have to ask yourself; What’s stressful in my relationship right now?
In energy practice, the pain area is indicative of the mental emotion. For example, if you have lower back pains. The low back connects to the Root Chakra, which represents our foundation and connection to our tribe, stability, and feeling grounded. Anything to do with our back informs us of a past issue, and lower back pain represents financial security.
The same goes for the stomach or belly pains. This area also connected to the Root Chakra and the Sacral Chakra (partner, creativity, masculine and feminine balance). IBS and other gut issues can indicate a disharmony in those areas of your life. But it also is indicative of fear.
When you follow the signals, you land on the answer. Paying attention to your body is vital for all decisions and most importantly, with our romantic relationships. It’s these relationships that hurt the most when they don’t work out. This is where healthy boundaries really matter.
Ways to set healthy boundaries
The first step we have to recognize when we know it’s time to leave, (but you’re talking yourself out of it) is:
Be mindful of your energy exchange.
What I mean by this is; check your energy level. Does this person energize you, or are you left feeling depleted by them? Are you happy and feel elevated by their presence, or are you anxious and a bit fearful?
Setting healthy boundaries starts with communication, first, with yourself. Then when you know that it’s time to say something to your partner, remember this is survival 101. You’re in a relationship to feel adored, loved, considered, and heard. If you don’t feel these things or have the things you need to make you feel these things, then why are you there?
It’s difficult for everyone to say “no.” We are intrinsically wired not to harm, and this can be confusing to our self-preservation when we are the ones being harmed. And saying no is the most effective way to self-protect.
I’m here to help you out. I’ve compiled the best ways to say NO.
#1 – I’m a “no” to that, but a “yes” to you.
#2 – I’m not into that but you go have fun!
#3 – Not tonight.
#4 – I’m a no for now.
#5 – It’s really hard for me to say no to people, but I’m practicing being braver and
more honest, so I’m going to say no right now.
#6 – I’m not available for anything like that right now.
#7 – I need to build more trust before I’d be willing to consider that.
#8 – No, thank you.
#9 – Not today.
#10 – Hmmm, that’s not going to work.
#11 – I don’t have the internal resources to pull that off.
#12 – I want to be in connection with you, but that doesn’t work for me.
Feel free to print these out and paste them on your mirror.
Creating healthy boundaries by saying NO, is as essential to our wellbeing as saying YES is to great opportunities. With today’s technology and social media platforms, it may seem daunting to have to block and delete our ex’s, but once you do it, there’s a relief.
When you discover the power of NO and embrace it as part of your daily dialogue, all areas of your life will improve. When the NO’s are gone, then there is only “YES.”