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Decisions, Boundaries and FOMO

lessons from coaching tangible techniques Oct 30, 2023

Lately I’ve been talking with clients about boundaries. Setting boundaries between work and home, with loved ones, with themselves

 I’ve concluded that setting a boundary – saying No when you mean No – is just a choice, a decision. And the reasons why people have a hard time setting boundaries are the same reasons that prevent decision making:


  1. FOMO
  2. “I’m really not sure” (Cue Whiny voice)
  3. The universe will offer me the RIGHT decision


Here’s how FOMO (fear of missing out) plays out in a boundary setting situation. Someone you care about asks you to do something. Go out, see a band, have dinner, lend them some money. Take your pick. What you WANT is to say no, BUT you say YES. Why? Fear of missing out on…their acceptance, their admiration, their love. Again, take your pick. There's a little voice inside you somewhere saying, “If you say no, you will be kicked off the island.” Here’s the thing…if it’s someone you care about and they care about you, saying no doesn’t mean they will stop loving you, stop being your friend, or stop asking you. Saying no is your way of teaching them how to treat you. What you are missing out on is being treated how you want.


I’m really not sure…” – “I’ll think about it” – so you think and think and think…you try to figure out a way to say no without hurting their feelings. You try to talk yourself into going, it will be great. It’s only one day. It’s only $100, no big deal. This is the “research” part of decision making. If I do more research, I’ll stumble on the right answer. But you already knew what you wanted to say and research is not going to change that. Research creates fatigue. And once your brain is fatigued, it’s more likely to take the path of least resistance, “Fine, I’ll go.” Then you find yourself at Fenway Park with a bunch of Dead Heads. Hey, that sounds amazing to me, but, if you are not a true fan, it’s a pretty miserable night.


There is a right choice…this is a tricky one. Your brain is trying to “convince you” that it’s the “right thing” or the “nice thing” or the “expected thing” to say yes. You know what the right choice is? The one that makes you happy. Turning down a wedding invitation, yet another baby shower on a beautiful Saturday, saying no to your mom for anything….these are choices we are programmed to NEVER make. It’s the “right” thing to do. I don’t know what’s right for you, only you do. But I do know, if you are sitting at the 10th baby shower this year filled with resentment praying you don’t win the raffle, you made the wrong choice for you. If the mom to be loves you, she will understand.


"How do I learn to say no when I mean no?"


I’m glad you asked.


Try this practice:

Next time someone asks you to do something, and your brain is saying, “We really should go, It’s the right thing, It’s only one hour/afternoon/day” but your gut is screaming NO!!!    Do this…


  1. Take a pause – use your breath. Inhale through your nose with your mouth closed and let your belly be soft.
  2. Put your hand on your heart, close your eyes and say, “Self, do we want to GO or NOT GO” – give the brain an either/or situation. No excuses or lists or blithering – “Go, NOT GO”
  3. Then wait.


The best answer is the answer that’s best for you. It will bubble up in the silence of your breath when you allow it.


When the answer is no, pause again. Then write a script for your friend, “Thank you for the offer but I’m going to decline at this time.” Something simple, to the point, with NO EXCUSES attached. Practice in the mirror or with your dog. (Don’t have a dog? WHATT??? Go get one 😊).


Then politely and calmly tell your friend. Stop the conversation before the excuses begin.


I had a client say to me recently, “But it seems so abrupt.” Well…it’s short and to the point. If it comes from the heart with love, then it’s perfect.


I don’ t know how your friend will react. And neither do you. “I don’t want to hurt her feelings.” Well, you are not the boss of someone else’s feelings. And if they are turning their feelings over to you, well, the relationship has bigger problems than your skipping the tiny human’s 5th birthday.


Saying Yes when we mean No teaches people all the things we don’t want. How would you like it if your friend started dating your husband/wife? It’s a hard no, am I right? Why is the birthday party or wedding or Thursday afternoon dinner any different? And hey, this applies at work too!


Need help learning to say no when you mean no, I’ve got just the solution. Book a call!



“Focusing is about saying no.” -Steve Jobs



If you want to know more about what I have to say about decision making, here’s a free webinar:


If you want to know more about techniques to manage your anxiety while you practice saying no, try my self-paced online course:



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I also offer 1:1 coaching for physical therapists and other people in health care who want to love their life, jobs and career again. If you’ve been thinking, “All I need is a new job, new career, new something and I’ll feel better”… I can help you feel better right now, right HERE. 


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