Will it be ‘No, ni madres’ or will it be ‘No’?

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Last week, I was in my class learning about making,and more important, having others respect your boundaries. That, many times, we, especially Latinas, tend to let people walk all over us in certain situations: our men: we are always trying to ‘take care of him’, sometimes we do more for him than we do for ourselves; our children: we want them to like us and we want to be cool; our supervisors: we want very much to be known as women who are down, who will do whatever is needed to make it happen at work; our familia/siblings: we don’t want to be called out for not being there for our parents, to lend money, whatever…part of making a boundary is saying ‘NO’ to your man when you don’t feel like doing this or that; to your kids when they ask you for money for the thousandth time; to overtime when you have other things going on, etc., etc., etc.

In class, we were practicing saying ‘no’ with quiet confidence, without an explanation; no ‘I’m sorry’; no “but”, no “ni madres”, nada. Very difficult as it is in our nature to try to help others before we help ourselves yet very effective: as a confident ‘no’ has little emotion tied to it thus it’s easier for one’s boundary to be respected by others. The goal is to learn how to say ‘no’ with confidence so you can keep your power without breaking someone’s spirit or taking their power.

So here I am in class, taking it all in and, thinking I’m all that, I did well in the role-playing portion of the session, said my ‘no’ without guilt, fear, or nerves.

Class done, I then head to the gasolinera and, sure enough, someone comes up to ask me for money. What is the first thing I do? I hear myself say…’oh I’m really sorry but…’ instead of saying ‘no’ like I had just learned and practiced not 10 minutes before! My ‘no’ was far from confident to say the least. Guess I still have a ways to go and, apparently, I’m not all that! There was nothing to do but laugh … and realize that it’s all about practice, practice, and more practice saying “no” without saying “no, ni madres!”

Setting a positive boundary can make you feel empowered.

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