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087: How to Say “No” and Establish Healthy Boundaries – Amy E. Smith

Amy E. Smith is a certified and credentialed confidence coach, masterful speaker, and personal empowerment expert. Owner and founder of Joy Junkie Enterprises, Amy uses her roles as coach, writer, podcaster, and speaker to move individuals beyond limiting beliefs and sabotaging mindsets to a place of radical personal empowerment and self-love. With acute focus on helping people “find their voice”, Amy uses her popular weekly podcast, The Joy Junkie Show, to address issues of worthiness, self-confidence, and letting go of people-pleasing to assist listeners in creating and living radically joyful lives. Co-founder of TheSelfLoveRevolution.com, Amy has been instrumental in aiding hundreds of women in stepping into their authentic power and craft lives they desire. She is highly sought after for her uncommon style of irreverence, wisdom, and humor and has been a featured expert on Fox 5 San Diego and YourTango.com.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • The result of saying ‘yes’ over and over again.
  • How saying ‘no’ expresses your own worth.
  • Why you’re only responsible for your intention, not the reception.
  • How to set a boundary with compassion and kindness.
Launch Your Life – online course and coaching experience

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    Interview Transcript

Amy, thanks so much for taking some time to hang with me today. I really appreciate it.

I’m excited to chat. Definitely.

Today, I want to talk about how to say no and how to establish boundaries. That word  boundaries is used a lot in our culture today. First of all, what is the result of saying yes over-and-over again to the people around us? I know a lot of the women that I work with and coach, yes is a common word that’s used. What is the result of saying yes over-and-over again?

It’s funny that you mention that, because being from southern California myself, we would call it being the ‘totally girl’. Where, “Will you just do this for me?” “Totally, totally. Absolutely.” It really becomes compulsory, where you just instantly say, “Yeah sure, I’ll come to your rescue.” I think that there is a lot of social conditioning, that although we like to think we’re extremely progressive, there is still, I think if you would take a group of people who identify as male, people who identify as female, and you said, “What is your guilt level around saying no?” I think disproportionately women would say, “Yeah, I struggle with this tremendously.”

The problem that I think happens, is actually on a sub-conscious level. Because consciously I think it’s quite noble. We think that we’re coming to someone’s rescue, we’re being there for them. We’ve got all these narratives around, “I can’t let people down.” What I really believe is happening, is if you are saying yes over-and-over again to shit you really don’t want to do, or at a severe cost to your own life, your own well-being, your own relationships. What you are sending is this message to yourself over and over, that everyone else’s wants, opinions, needs, and stances are more important than my own. It’s manifesting through your behavior that you think is noble, and so oftentimes I will say constantly putting everybody else in front of yourself is poison disguised as nobility.

Wow, okay. Say that again, that’s good.

Constantly putting everyone else ahead of yourself is poison disguised as nobility.

Good, good. Okay. Hmmm.

Because we’re taught, don’t hurt that person’s feelings, don’t let them down. Or we also make up this idea that if I don’t do it, no one else will. I think even if we look at primitively how we’re wired, we’re wired for connection. Even if we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one of our major primitive needs is a sense of belonging. So even in our interpersonal relationships, if we feel like that’s going to be thwarted or threatened in any way we go, “I better make this person happy, I can’t deal with that upset.”

Especially when it comes to family, because there’s such a deep bond there. So my wife gets, not recently but you get invited to these stinking Pampered Chef parties. You know what I’m talking about?

Yes, MLM.

Your friend just started whatever and it’s like, “I should go to support them.” “Really? Do you want to buy into that stuff?” “Well, I just want to be nice.” Right? Take us through some things, because we may not even realize that we’re saying yes to things that we don’t want to say yes to. That’s an example, the party thing. Give us some examples, whether it’s family, friends, workplace. Help us unpack some of those things in our mind that we may be saying yes to, that we don’t even realize we can say no to. Give me some options.

I’ll give you one from my own life. My husband and I decided around the time of the election, that we did not want to do Christmas gifts anymore. We were going to take all of the money that we would normally give to Christmas gifts, and give it to philanthropic organizations that were aligned with our political leanings. There were people in our family that were like, “You can’t just not do Christmas.” We were like, “Watch us. Watch us, we are doing that.” We’re doing Christmas, but we’re doing it in a totally different way.

I think that one of the entry points for people listening, is when you hear yourself say, “I can’t.” Most of the time, what you mean is, “I won’t.” Like I can’t say, “I can’t not be there for my partner through this thing,” or “I can’t just let that person move on their own without volunteering my truck or my time.” “I can’t not do Christmas.” “I can’t not do that gift exchange at the office,” or whatever it is that we think we’re not allowed to do. A lot of times, it’s also things that we don’t believe we can speak up about.

You and I were talking prior to recording, just about the various spiritual influences that I’ve had over my life, that we have quite a similarity to. I see a lot of people who say, “I could never tell my family that I don’t align with the religion I was raised in.” Or, “I could never tell my spouse what I really need in the bedroom.” Things like that, where we make up this idea that, “I can’t.” And it’s not limited just to saying no or saying yes, it’s limited to what we can give voice to period. What can I be vocal about? I think that it spans over a myriad of topics.

It seems like family is a huge one. I can’t say no to my mom or dad, or if I’m expected to be at an event, expected to perform in a certain way, expected to talk, to dress in a certain way, or expected to even help my siblings in a certain way. Friends, of course, that’s huge. Lots of different things that you’re supposed to show up to. Even like you said, spirituality. Even in the context of a faith community to go, “This is the expected norm, so I couldn’t say no to that.”

Right, absolutely.

And then the workplace, that’s a tricky one of course. Because your job is connected to that, so that is a bit more tricky.

It is, yeah. It is, and I think the other big place that we get hung-up, is when our saying no, adversely affects somebody else. This is where we really get caught up in caretaking for somebody else’s emotions. For example, if we’re talking about this whole spirituality piece, my mom has on multiple occasions invited me to church. It’s something that her specific affiliation is something that I actually find fairly offensive. It’s just not something I want to participate in.

That’s because you’re a sinner.

That’s right, because I’m a heathen. I’m pretty pumped about that actually. Anyway, her intent, what she’s doing is totally pure-hearted.

Positive intention.

Right. She’s not being malicious. She’s not saying, “I’m going to blatantly disrespect my daughter.” I also want to meet her with that same respect, so I have told her, “Thank you so much for the thought. Thank you for the invite, I really appreciate that. I will make you this promise, if I ever change my mind, you’ll be the first person to know. But it would really mean a lot to me to have some reciprocal respect. I don’t give you books on Wiccan, or astrology, or winter solstice invites, or things like that. So I would just really appreciate some reciprocal respect here. I truly hope you can understand.” Now, saying no in that situation…

How’d that go over?

I tried to give her examples of like, “I’m not pushing my dogma, so please don’t do the reverse.” One of the things that I’ve seen really consistently, is when you come from that place of grace and kindness, which a cornerstone of the model that I teach. You can ask for a divorce. You can ask your adult children to move out of the house. You can discuss some of the most polarizing topics, but if you come from a place of grace and kindness, you are far more likely to elicit that from the other person. We naturally want to mirror emotion like that, so if you start off on a vulnerable tone, you’re more likely to get vulnerability. That’s what I’ve seen consistently with her as well, and she was like, “Okay,” and she just accepted it. Now those moments though, I know that it’s painful for her. I know that it hurts her tremendously, to feel like she did everything she could, and her daughter isn’t…

Is going to hell.

Is going to hell. That’s a burden she has to carry. It’s not mine. I’m like, “If you want to carry the burden of my soul, knock yourself out. But I’m chilling over here.” When it comes to that I go, “There is pain there for her. There is pain there for her.” I think in so many situations, we think, “I can’t say no because it’s going to inflict pain on somebody else.” What we’re actually doing, is we’re adopting responsibility for something that’s not ours to carry. My stance is, I always come back to this mantra of, “I am responsible for my intention, not my reception.” So if it’s my intention to be malicious and be an asshole, then yeah, I should feel bad about that. I should have guilt. I was being a dick. But if intention is one of self-love, of autonomy and agency, of caring for her and kindness, I cannot be held responsible for somebody else’s emotions. I have to let go of that reception, and I think far too often that’s where we get hung up, is we’re so attached to the reception.

In the process of trying to say no or set a boundary, there seems to be a lot of emotion. Right?

Yes.

So there’s emotions in me of feeling like maybe there’s anger, there’s resentment. If I actually get in touch with, if I go beyond — and it seems like people need to this in order to set a boundary. To go beyond the feeling responsible, if I start to actually get down to what I really want, there can be some resentment and anger. Like I’m pissed. I’m like, “God, why do I have to keep doing this? Why do people keep wanting me?” In the midst of that energy though, that can come off as not gracious, not kind, how do I make that shift that you’re talking about from that place of, “Ugh, I’m sick of them doing this to me or asking me,” to “Mom, I really appreciate this.”

Yeah.

Right? Because there’s a lot of emotion there. How do I get through that in order to get to that place of grace?

My goodness, that’s a great question. I’m really glad you brought that up because I had a situation where when I first started speaking up with her, it came to a head at the time when my father passed away in ’07. I had just a really rough exchange with her, and that was the first moment when I started to really be — I came out of the heathen closet really. And said, “I don’t subscribe to this.” So after that, I became incredibly combative and adversarial. I wanted to fight. And a lot of it was anger from my youth of, I think, feeling robbed in a lot of ways. I had to work through a lot of that anger.

So what I would say to people who, “Okay great, do I just work on all my childhood shit and then I can start speaking up?” No, if we’re talking about an immediate exchange like that, first off, anger is the secondary emotion. It’s always going to be our most easily accessible but there’s usually something beneath that. If you notice that you get pissed at somebody over and over, and over again, dig for the primary emotion. What is that really about? It’s probably disappointment, maybe guilt, maybe shame, maybe frustration, overwhelm. Maybe a feeling of being disrespected.

Taken advantage of.

Yes, exactly. If you can excavate for that a little bit more, then you can see what’s really problematic. Because when we’re in the anger response, we’re retaliatory. We just want to take someone to school and tell them why they’re so shitty. “Why are you doing that to me?” And we usually have the fight-or-flight. We either become very combative or we acquiesce and give them whatever they want. That’s where the people-pleasing tendency comes in, “How can I make this stop? Let me just appease them,” and then you say yes to something you don’t want to do. And then your partner gets an earful, or your therapist gets an earful, or you tell somebody else how upset you are about this person taking advantage of you, but you haven’t been vocal.

My biggest suggestion in those moments, is to breathe. Is to take one second to be really cognizant of what is about to come out of your mouth. The other piece of that is, if you are in a state of anger like that, you can revisit. You can actually say, “I need to take a moment,” or “I’m not so sure if I’m going to be available.” Buy yourself some time. Ask, “How soon do you need to know?” My favorite response is if someone says, “I need to know now.” If you need a response that quickly, then I’m going to have to politely decline. And you have your go-to phrase, “If you need a response that quickly, I’m going to have to politely decline.” Repetition, over and over, and over again. I think it’s changing that gut response to say yes right away, and just saying, “I do need to look at my calendar,” or “I would hate to say yes and then have to pull out later. I really do need to check things out.” And again sometimes people are more aggressive, “Well, can you look at your calendar right now?” “I’m going to need to take a day or two.” You have to have your statements and your phrasing ready to go.

I’ll even say, “I need to talk to my spouse. I need to talk to my wife.”

Sure.

That’s another way to say, “We want to be on the same page.”

Absolutely. In a pinch you can go, “Hold that thought, I need to run to the bathroom real quick.” Anything to just buy time and not feel like you have to give an immediate response. You also have to remember that they’re coming to you with their agenda. You need to be mindful of, just because their agenda is enveloped in a case of urgency and importance, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s urgent or important for you. It can be hard when people come to you in that cloak of emotion like, “Oh my gosh, no one else can do it. I need so much help.” So you have to really weigh out, is this something that I do genuinely want to say yes to? And most of the time we need a little bit of time to think about it.

I have found that I will actually do things now out of honoring someone or intentionally wanting to invest in them…

Yes.

Even if I don’t want to do whatever it is they’re asking me to do.

Interesting.

That’s different than doing it out of responsibility. Doing it out of, because I feel I have to or whatever. There are certain things, whether it’s with family members or friends, where I go, “I want to invest in them. I want to honor them because they’re my family member.” They’re asking me to do something where it would just not be my choice. I’m probably going to have to work to enjoy it. But I’m choosing to do it because I value the relationship and I value them, and I know that this will be enjoyable or encouraging to them. But that’s out of choice. And then I have to realize afterwards, if I’m resentful after the fact, that’s on me. Because I’m actually choosing to be there.

A conscious choice. Yes.

It’s a conscious choice.

Also something that you’re pointing to here, is it’s enveloped in a totally different emotion. You’re not talking about an emotion of guilt, obligation, “What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t approve of me?” All of the fear of repercussion. It’s a place of love, compassion, being invested, wanting to be a support. I think that it’s a very different come-from, to use a really coachy word or phrase. It’s what the come-from? What’s my motivation behind this? I too, will do similar choices because it’s the woman I want to be. Or it’s the man you want to be. I think that is a different, again, it’s a different motivation.

It also comes back to emotional intelligence. Like, “How do you feel around this decision?” We’re so used to doing what I like to call the cognitive override. Where we just, “Well, he did that for me, and I did that for him,” but we don’t feel into what feels right. What would be the most powerful choice for me? I think something that’s really important to look at with these situations, regardless if you do decide to say yes to something or not, it’s at what cost?

Because there’s times when you just don’t want to help them move, but you really want to support them or you want to be there for them. And you have the time. It’s not going to throw off, “Oh, I’m already at my max, and now I said yes to this other thing. And now I don’t get to have date night, or I don’t get to have time with my kids. Or I can’t invest in a project, or my health the way I want to.” You have to make sure that the saying yes isn’t at a severe cost to you. That’s another delineation, I think.

That’s good, that’s good. I find that one of the strategies that people tend to use if they’re setting a boundary, is apologizing in the process. Like profusely trying to — once again, it seems it’s like caring for the other person’s response or emotions. Can apologizing be part of the boundary setting? Is that appropriate? Is it not appropriate? What have you found?

My first rule that I really live by and try to teach, is to not lie. So don’t make up some sort of noble bullshit lie about…

The worst.

Yeah. I mean, I personally think that’s radically bad karma to say like, “My grandma died…” Just don’t fucking lie. I find that the most vulnerable you can be, to say something like, “I’ll be really honest with you, I feel so incredibly stretched to my max. I don’t think I can put one more thing on my plate. I would love to be there for you and I just don’t think I can make it happen.” My personal thought is, I don’t like to say I am sorry, unless I’ve done something unbefitting to myself. That it’s something out of alignment to me. However, I do think we can use the words “I’m sorry” to embody empathy.

I think it’s fine to empathize and to say, “I know you are so up a creek,” or “I know you’re really having a rough go and I have been there myself. I wish I could come through for you. I’m not able to this time.” Or, “I just can’t.” I think it’s a sliding scale, it depends. And it also depends on how much you really wanted to be there for them, and you just can’t. I would go with the rule of, if you’re not really that sorry, don’t say sorry. Don’t lie about it. But you can also use empathy, compassion, concern. Those are all really viable. But you don’t really have anything to apologize for.

I think that also is in direct tandem with over-explanation. Where we want to report all of the reasons why. “Well see, I’ve been so under-the-gun at work and I’ve been so stressed out. Then I have this Christmas play and then I’ve got this thing I’ve got to do for the kids.” None of that matters. None of that matters. All that matters is that you genuinely care about that person and you’re not able to come through this time, “I hope you can understand.”

When you set a boundary like this, when I hear your language, when I hear you talking to your mom, you sound so brash. Like you’re being nice, but people don’t talk this way Amy. People just go with the flow. You’re not going with the flow, Amy, is what I feel like. Would you agree? You’re not a go-with-the-flow person? I feel like you’re just against things, like just don’t — I don’t know.

Are you being adversarial on purpose right now? Are you poking me?

I’m teasing you because it does feel different. You know what I mean? Now I can set boundaries like this. I’m very comfortable with this. Part of it is because of my personality because I’m a type-A and I’m a bit driven. I’m a pretty direct, aggressive person, to say the least. But the way that you’re talking, for people that don’t have the ability or haven’t done that, it can feel a little awkward.

Absolutely, of course. Because we are taught from a very early age to do everything but. We have so many phrases like, “Don’t open up a can of worms.” “Don’t rock the boat.” “Sweep it under the rug.” We have so many statements to say, “Shut the fuck up and go with-the-flow.” My whole motto, it’s funny that you bring that up, because I am very not go-with-the-flow. I remember, to give you sort of some context, in high school I went to a conservative Christian school and they were teaching it…

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Come on, which one? Which one?

Lifted up. Arrowhead Christian Academy in Redlands.

Oh, look at you. All right.

Yeah, Eagles. The Eagles. And so we had Bible. They would talk about Abraham sacrificing Isaac. So I’d be like, “No, wait,” and putting my hand up. “Come on…”

You’re that one.

Yes. We weren’t allowed to wear ripped jeans, so I would duct tape all the holes in my jeans and I would go, “So do I look more like a Christian now? Do you think Jesus is way more down with me now?”

Oh, you’re the worst.

So yeah, I definitely didn’t go-with-the-flow.

That is hilarious. Jesus hates ripped jeans.

That’s right, and bare shoulders apparently. I was the one like, “Why? Why though? Why? Why? Not just because God said. I’m going to need a way better reason than that.”

Sure, sure.

I have always bucked against the system. However, I definitely got caught in who I was supposed to be and not supposed to be. And like I said, prior to delivering that conversation with my mom, there was a good ten-year stint of me figuring out why I was responding from anger. And doing a lot of study around personal growth and communication and how you can actually affect change. If you think about it, if we distill it back down to a scenario that we can all imagine. We’re driving along, maybe we accidentally cut somebody off, and then they start honking and giving you the finger and like, “Fuck you!” Your response, our immediate response is one of two things; fight-or-flight. We either mimic that same energy, “Oh yeah? Go to hell!” We mimic. Or we cower and go, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” We don’t ever go, “You know what, you’re right. I probably shouldn’t have done that.” We don’t respond with rationale.

Sure, sure.

So the same is true when we’re learning how to communicate. Our gut instinct is wired by fight-or-flight. We are going to want to…

Amp up.

Amp up. It’s part of our defense.

Or apologize.

Or apologize. It’s at least having that awareness of, “Which one am I?” And then noticing, “Okay, I want to communicate differently because I want to evoke a different response. I want a more productive conversation.” Most people, if you go to your wife and you yell and scream about, “Why aren’t you doing this? All you had to do was pay that one bill. You had one job to do.” How likely is it that she’s going to go, “You know what, you’re right, honey. I’m going to get right on that. I can’t wait.” No. So we respond based-off of our emotion, instead of really calculating, what do I want to elicit from this person? That’s a skillset. It did not happen overnight, at all. That’s why one of the things that I advocate for all the time is, I help people a lot with semantics, and verbiage, and specific phrases. But tell me what you want to say. Let me help you rephrase it. Let me help you with a way to make it land better. Then go practice it.

So good.

Over, and over, and over, in the mirror. Really important.

With that practicing then, I’m assuming it gets easier over time.

Yes, absolutely. I just had a student tell me yesterday, and this is when you know it’s started to become imbedded in the subconscious part of your mind. She said, “I had three conversations, three tough conversations, and they all just flowed out. Three months ago, four months ago, I would have hidden from those people. I would never have brought anything up and it just flowed out.” I’ve had those situations myself now for a number of years, but one of the things that I teach around this in particular, is a gearing up process. Prepping for these things.

How to show up in a way that you’re really proud of yourself. Instead of, “I need that person to see it my way. I need them to understand me. I need them to agree. Relinquishing the attachment to that and really getting conscientious of how do I want to show up? What’s the verbiage I want to use? How do I want to deliver it? Because so much of it is your cadence and your rhythm. I really think the more you can come from a vulnerable place, which is hard for all of us because it involves risk. And we’re told vulnerability is weakness. I think it’s a superpower. I don’t know if I answered your question.

No, it’s wonderful.

I think you were poking at me, but I didn’t take your bait.

The word that comes to my mind is clarity. You’re helping bring clarity to what you really want, and then speak it very clearly in a way that is with intention to bring care and concern. But at the same time represent yourself in a way that’s very clear. It’s beautiful. I think that it requires the other person to then go, “Hmm, okay. Well, what do I want? What’s important to me?” It requires the same level of clarity there. That’s super powerful, super powerful.

What is the result of being able to say no over time? We talked in the beginning about the result of saying yes over-and-over again. What is the result in someone’s life if they’re going, “Okay, I don’t know if I can do this.” Cast a vision for them of what the results will be in their life if they’re able to represent themselves and say no with that level of clarity.

I think it really distills down to a confidence and a belief in self-worth. If we’re talking about saying yes and putting everybody in front of yourself, sends that subconscious message that everyone else’s wants, opinions, and needs are more important than yours. Then the antithesis is also true. That if I start to say no, I start to send the subconscious message that my wants, opinions, and needs are important. Then that message begins to manifest in all decision making. Whether it’s, “Do I want to date this person?” Or, “Do I want to get involved in this business collaboration?” “Or, “Do I want to purchase this thing?” We start looking at things through a lens of our own personal intrinsic value.

I think you can work in multiple ways. You can start with the fake it until you believe it. Where you go through the action of, “I’m scared shitless to say no, but I’m going to start doing it to foster the self-worth.” Or you can work the opposite way, where you start with really digging into self-worth and believing in mantras and a whole slew or arsenal of personal growth tools that you can use in  that arena. And then bolster that so you have the confidence to go say no. So you can kind of work with whatever is the most accessible for you. Whatever feels the most resonant. That’s the trade-off, is truly believing in what you want matters.

That’s beautiful. You have the opportunity for people to work with you, to actually help increase their confidence and help them learn to say no. I know that on your website www.thejoyjunkie.com, which we will link to in the show notes of course. If you’re listening you can swipe up on your phone and find it there. Tell me about that name, The Joy Junkie. Give me the backstory.

Part of it was very much a business decision, because I figured if I ever went into chiropractic or if I went into auto parts, I could have Joy Junkie Mechanics. I figured it was something that I could use no matter what my niche was. If I switched modalities, and right now I’m actually training to be a hypnotherapist as well, so I knew that I would accumulate different things, and that was a piece of it.

But the deeper, more life-coachy version of it. I look around and I see so people who are addicted to things that aren’t bringing them joy. And we know that the two primary human drivers, are the pursuit of pleasure, the avoidance of pain. Everything that we’re doing is because of how we want to feel. If we want this job, if we want this baby, if we want to be partnered, if we want to make this money, it’s because of a feeling that we want to feel. And I thought, “What would shift in our life if we were just as addicted to our joy, as we are to our devices, or booze, or work?” That’s the impetus.

What brings you the most joy in your life? What things? It doesn’t have to be just one thing.

Oh, okay. Definitely, whiskey. Definitely, my husband, who I always refer to as Mr. Smith. I love coloring; those adult coloring books with mandalas and gel pens. Deer, that’s a new thing that’s so huge for me. Coming from southern California to Charlotte, I’m like, “There’s wildlife out here.”

Do you like to kill them or do you like to look at them?

No. No, I don’t like to kill them. No, not at all. I just love to see them running through my yard. I just always felt like I had to go a zoo to see that, and here there’s squirrels everywhere. I feel like Cinderella, like they’re going to come help me get dressed in the morning. Let’s see what else. Cheese, ice cream, my home, my best friend, my brother, my team, creating. Like actually creating something, even if it’s Halloween costume. I just get like, “Oh, I love that.” It brings me so much joy. Of course, I have to say watching people transform their lives. Doing something that they never thought they could do, and I hear it all the time. That just blows my mind. That with the myriad of experts that people can go to and listen to and invest in, that they chose me to be their guide.  Then they actually did the stuff. I can’t make them do it.

Right.

But then when they find that personal power, oh my, God, that lights me up. I cry every time. It’s amazing.

So good. That’s so good. All right, for those of you listening, I do want to encourage you to check out a workshop that Amy has online. It is for free. It has the longest title ever. Go the www.joyjunkie.com/workshop, and we’ll have that in the show notes of course. The title is, The Five Step Game Plan High Achieving Women Use to Banish Self-Doubt and Perfectionism. Access Killer Confidence and Enoughness and Finally Find Their Voice and Happiness Again Without Worrying About What Everyone Else Thinks.

So to get the free workshop, go to www.thejoyjunkie.com/workshop and we’ll have that obviously in this show notes. Amy, if somebody is wrestling with this right now, and setting boundaries, and feeling like, “I just want to be a nice person. I can’t say no.” What would you say to them today?

I would say that saying no has nothing to do with being nice or being mean. This is one of the reasons why I started teaching how to speak up, is we buy into this idea that if I say no, if I speak up for myself, then I’m being a dick, then I’m being an asshole. But you can say no, with compassion, with grace, with kindness, with love, with concern, with empathy. I thinks it’s a fallacy to even think from the beginning that saying no equals meanness. That’s one thing I would advocate dismantling.

Also, if you don’t know where to start, the first place I would look at is, what do I constantly complain about or chronically obsess about? As far as this person at work is always saying this to me, and maybe your partner gets an earful, but you never actually address it with the person at work. Or maybe it’s your therapist who gets an earful, but you never really address it with your partner who you’re pissed about. I’m not talking about blowing off steam, or venting, or clearing something, I’m talking about a perpetual thing that you bitch about and complain about, even if it’s in your own mind. Like, “Ugh, so and so’s going to ask that again. God, why can’t they see how much I have going on?” If that’s the routine happening over and over in your mind and you haven’t taken any action to give voice to it in a clear way, then that’s on you. You don’t know that if you’re just locked in your victimhood. That’s the first place to check-in and go, “With whom and when are those situations where I stay silent?”

Awesome. All right, you guys, check out Amy Smith — Amy E. Smith. Because there’s probably a bazillion Amy Smith’s.

Exactly. If your name was Amy Smith, wouldn’t you use the E?

I know. Amy E. Smith at www.thejoyjunkie.com. Amy, thank you so much for taking time. I live what you’re doing, I love your clarity. I love your heart of wanting to be kind and gracious, and yet at the same time represent yourself. Very beautiful, thanks for what you’re doing in the world.

Awesome. I have had such a blast. Thank you so much for having me.

thank you!