Relationships, Boundaries & The Power Of ‘No’

The greatest way to nourish your heart is to discover the power and beauty of honouring your own boundaries. To do this well, you have to be clear enough in your own awareness to know who you really are and what you truly want. Have you ever said yes to someone when it was really a no? It doesn’t feel good. When we abandon ourselves like that we tend to retract a little from the world. Our spirit pulls back, we are likely to resent the person that has asked us and we lose faith in ourselves a little bit. In some small we have betrayed ourselves and the knock on affect overtime means we are not fully safe or self-expressed.

That is why there is great beauty to be found in deepening your capacity to lovingly say “no”.  By being clear about what feels good and right for you in the moment is a fundamental part of loving yourself and living a life that feels good. This means it is likely you will be able to trust yourself more and it also means that other people will feel a greater depth of confidence from you. When we can manage our own boundaries more clearly people begin to trust us more. If there is someone in your life who always says yes and is always willing to do anything for you, there will be some wise part of you that knows that you don’t really know where you stand with that person. You can feel their willingness to betray themselves to “please” you. They think they are being generous and kind but actually it feels more like they are trying to win or buy our affections. That isn’t authenticity and it doesn’t feel good.

When we are really clear about what we want and we can relax into our right to protect our boundaries, each “no” is actually an act of self-love. That means in contrast that when we say yes, we can be fully there, heart open, happy and generously giving of ourselves. This is a real gift worth sharing. The more we love ourselves the more loving we can be with others when they ask us to do something and the answer is no.  When we are guilt free the whole exchange can be breezy. That makes asking you really easy. There is no heaviness or awkwardness.

When we can say “no” with love in our hearts for ourselves and the other, our “no” is often met with peace.

When we feel guilty, embarrassed or groundless in our right to say no, people are more likely to feel let down. They will feel the negativity and are more likely to think that you are “wrong” not to say yes. The more relaxed we get within our boundaries the more people trust and respect us.

Unapologetic authenticity is the key to freedom.

When we can be ourselves completely without fear of how our truth will upset others, we begin to operate with a kind of loving serenity that people find most appealing. We are relaxed about our “no” and deeply committed to our “yes” but more than that, we are deeply at peace with ourselves. From this place we are much more comfortable asking for our needs to be met and we are much more relaxed around other people when they are asking us to meet their needs. When we are caught in people pleasing, every interaction involves the possibility of being overwhelmed or overstretched. When we drop that, our system trusts us more and we can engage more fully with the world. Relationships can deepen without threatening our identity and so that means we can open our hearts much wider than before. We can truly let life and love in.

It is a worthwhile endeavour to connect with yourself and recognise when you may have said yes when you really meant no. Check in with yourself and apologise to yourself for letting yourself down. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we have transgressed our own boundaries until the event has passed. With awareness the gap between what you want and what you are aware of needing will shorten. Ideally you will be so in touch with yourself in each and every moment that you will protect and love yourself with all of your choices all of the time.

So, yes apologise to yourself if you haven’t always been there for yourself and make commitments to start honouring your own boundaries in all of your interactions.

This is the best way to nourish your heart and bring your life back into balance.


Why Meeting Yourself With Love Is So Important

Nourishing your heart involves making a practice of loving every aspect of yourself. This is about embracing all of your inner world too. This includes those parts of you that are responsible for some of your greatest challenges. Many people have parts of themselves that are closed down to love, push away opportunity and sabotage their best attempts to make positive changes in their lives. It can be tempting to attack these parts of your mind, making them wrong and blaming them for everything that is difficult in your life.  Unfortunately that only makes matters worse. If you do have parts of yourself that seem set against you, they are working on some level to serve you. They always are. Yes, those parts may be serving you in wholly destructive ways, underpinning any number of terribly limiting behaviours and beliefs but those parts will be doing that with your best interests at heart. Somewhere in the middle of their motivation is a desire to keep you safe.

Changing behaviour only works in a real and lasting way if we can get every aspect of ourselves into alignment. It is about negotiating with yourself so that every part of you comes into agreement. Then it no longer involves any will power. Will power is when one part of you wants one thing and another wants something else and you go to war against an aspect of yourself.  True transformation comes from realising on a deep level what truly serves you. This is not a chore, a duty or a loss. It is a gift of love. From there, there is no more struggle or effort required. So, how do you bring those parts of you into agreement?

Alignment comes with love, respect and faith.

To do this try the following negotiation exercise. Once you become familiar with this exercise, it is possible to do very rapid negotiations with yourself. However, sometimes I f you are working with something big, you might want to take a long time over this, spending time getting very deeply relaxed before you begin. Sometimes, negotiating with yourself can involve a few rounds of internal discussion. To do this close your eyes, relax your breathing, become still and then invite this part of yourself to come into your awareness. This could be a part of you responsible for smoking, over-shopping, overeating, never stopping, angry outbursts etc. You may see this part in your imagination or you might just sense that you are talking to yourself on some deeper level. Either way is fine. You then first of all thank this part for everything it is doing to help you. You let it feel that you have faith that it is trying to help you. Do your best to feel sincere gratitude for this part. Then let it know that you are not here to force it to change. You are here simply to invite it to think and feel differently about this behaviour or habit. There is a more loving way of living and loving yourself and you are here to give this part a chance to find even more beautiful ways of loving you.

Sometimes we can happen upon an aspect of ourselves that seems absolutely dead set against us, that wants to pull everything down and ruin all hope. That part more than anything needs your love not your hatred. It will simply be trying to hold you responsible for everything that went wrong in your past. It will be protecting you from painful thoughts and feelings that you once couldn’t bear to be conscious of. If you find that part in you, let it know that you are finally here to help it. You are finally here to feel the feelings and to think the thoughts that you were once too afraid to think and feel. By meeting every part of us with love, the battle and the blame begins to dissolve. Peace moves through our choices and a sense of adequacy transforms the pain of imagined inadequacy and failure that drives all of the behaviours that cause damage and pain in our life. From there what we truly want gets exciting, we act in healthy and harmonious ways because we really want to. No will power is required. We are no longer battling against some sense of something being wrong, something needing to be different. That primary resistance simply isn’t there so we naturally find balance.

Meet every part of yourself with love.

Bring every choice into your conscious awareness, trusting that you will make the perfect choice at the perfect time when you can relax into the process of simply bringing more love to life.


The Problem With Getting Swept Off Your Feet (Is That You Can Land Up On Your Head)

I’ve come to realise that we’re all living with a terrible affliction, a curse of the modern age that infects almost every walk of life. It’s called The Lure Of The Instant. In the words of the immortal Freddie Mercury, we want it all … and we want it now.

If it isn’t delivered today, we’re not interested. We want music now. Books now. Films now. Our favourite TV shows now. Download speeds must be superfast, fast food faster and a quick buck easier to make.

The days when we sent our photos off to Boots and waited a week for them to come back seem almost prehistoric. Getting online through a dial-up connection that took ten minutes to deliver the world to our screen ridiculous. Using mail order to get a CD delivered preposterous (and what the hell is a CD anyway, right?)

And this malaise, this creeping and often malevolent virus also contaminates our romantic lives. Think not? Two words: speed dating.

Back in the day we could be waiting months for a messenger arriving on a horse to deliver a love-letter — nowadays there is a tendency to start getting seriously twitchy if the double blue ticks on Whatsapp haven’t been acknowledged within ten minutes.

The ways to contact someone are myriad and near-infinite and technology has turbo-boosted the pace at which relationships start. And unfortunately that also means our anxiety levels are superheated, too.   

How our junk food mentality of modern society affects your romantic stress levels all depends really on what you are looking for. You can have incredible nights, weeks and months with people, but I believe problems occur when we mistake intensity for intimacy.    

That heady, yet judgement-clouding triumvirate of sex, alcohol and fantasy-about-the-future can see your common sense, not to mention your wisdom and intuition, dancing their way merrily through a sea of red warning flags and straight out of the side-exit.         

That’s not to say good things cannot be easy and flow well – I believe that’s a good sign; it’s more that if you’re looking for a life partner rather than another kamikaze love affair (especially if you have previous in this area) or you just want to step off the merry-go-round of over-before-it-started-flings then it’s wise to take it more s-l-o-w-l-y.    

We are drip-fed (perfume advert anyone?) a steady diet of a story of happily ever afters based on style-over-substance chemistry explosions and little else.   

Love is where both men and women can abandon themselves by getting so intoxicated that they are blinded to behaviour they would never tolerate from friends, co-workers, family members etc. and I’m afraid that if you continue to abandon yourself (saying yes when you mean no, ignoring uneasy feelings about someone’s behaviour, neglecting self-care, friends and other commitments to see someone every single night of the week because that’s what they want) you will continue to crash.

Who are you actually giving your heart to? Do you know? If you don’t – and the majority of us can’t honestly insist we do in the first flush of romance – then you need to find out. And that, in my opinion, takes time.  Most of us are dating ‘adverts’ for the first few weeks anyway!     

If you’ve started something and you feel like you are getting swept along too fast – and we all know and understand that it’s the easiest thing in the world to get carried away – then it’s absolutely your prerogative to set the pace and slow it down to establish a healthier footing so that you can work out what is right and wrong for you.

Because if you don’t, then the wise old voice of your intuition is likely to be lost in the roar of your emotional afterburners. We need to at least go slow-ish to able to listen to our intuition.    

One of the main things our single clients come in with at Zoe Clews & Associates when they are looking to work on relationships is a ‘checklist’ of everything they want in a suitable partner.   

But checklists that are a long list of physical attributes and worldly accomplishments mean nada if you have failed to establish the fundamentals:

1. Are they available? 

2. Are they saying all the right things but actually not following through in their actions?

3. Do your values align?  

These aren’t just questions we can ‘ask’ of someone on a first date, these are things we need to observe over time.  

I’m not here to put the dampener on romance – love is absolutely the most wonderful thing in the world, and I’m all for following your heart. But just be absolutely certain to take your brain with you. 


Is Your Subconscious Mind Making You Involuntarily Single?

If you haven’t been in a relationship for a long time despite a deep desire to be, it could be down to one of the following;

1. Your (subconscious) fear of getting hurt is stronger than your (conscious) desire to be in a relationship – this could be due to being disappointed or betrayed in a previous relationship or relationships, but if often goes back to childhood fears about love and being loved, based on your relationship with your family or your parents relationships with each other.

2. It’s a self-esteem or confidence issue – perhaps deep down you feel you don’t deserve to be in a happy relationship, don’t feel ‘good enough’ or simply don’t believe you are attractive enough. It’s no secret that a good relationship with yourself is the key to a good relationship with others, and this is especially true of romantic partnerships.

3. There are unresolved issues with your ex – if a relationship ended abruptly, and you experienced real heartbreak then a part of you can be holding onto that relationship or it may be that you came to the unconscious decision ‘I will never let that happen to me again’, both of which block the flow to someone new entering your life.

4. Your ‘type’ isn’t really your type – you can unconsciously choose people that aren’t really ‘available’ as it’s a safe option (see point 1). If a certain type isn’t working out for you it may be worth looking at your motivation for your choice and ‘updating your script’ to attract someone more suitable for a successful relationship.

Continue reading…

Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.