If you never say ‘No’ …

If you never say ‘no’, what is your ‘yes’ worth? I heard this wise saying from one of my first teachers in the art of holistic healing, and have often passed it on to clients who find it hard to protect themselves against unwelcome demands and intrusions. 


Problems which arise from this inability to set personal boundaries can include neglect of personal needs and desires, tiredness from overwork, and feelings of victimhood, martyrdom or resentment often concealed by a polite facade.


Some people who cannot say ‘No’ to the demands of others hold the belief that being ill is the only valid reason to claim care and attention for themselves. There is even a theory that illness can develop primarily for this reason. Whether or not that is true, such a mindset can certainly prolong recovery. This would happen through unconscious mind-body mechanisms and is not deliberate malingering.


Two key Bach flower remedies to be considered for the ‘yes-person’ are Centaury and Walnut. Centaury is for those so eager to please others that they agree to each and every request. Walnut is for those who are unduly sensitive to outside influences and therefore easily distracted from their chosen path in life. Other flowers might be indicated for the secondary consequences, such as Elm for feeling overburdened with responsibilites, Olive for exhaustion, Willow for self-pity, or Holly for hostility towards others.
Practical aids to setting boundaries include such simple steps as shutting your door or turning off your phone when you do not want interruptions, and limiting the period you are willing to spend on certain activities. You may also need to practice techniques for saying ‘No’ without causing offence, or being worried about doing so. This can be done firmly and politely without having to give detailed reasons or apologies.