Do You Have the Ability to Say No?


Protection is a natural outcome of caring, loving relationships.

I love and care for my wife. Out of that love, I will fiercely defend her from unwarranted attacks. whether verbal, physical, or emotional.

I would support a friend who is on the receiving end of unwarranted injustice, because I care for him and his welfare.

I would do the same for my dog.

I would protect anyone with whom I have a loving, caring relationship.

When we are brought up in a family environment in which our needs have not been respected or fully attended to, we emerge from it with an uninformed experience of boundaries, largely because healthy boundaries – the ability to say or convey “no” – were not appropriately modeled…


Coming out of such an environment, we will likely need to depend upon other models to learn what boundaries are and how they are relevant, important and even vital in our day-to-day lives.

We may need to read and learn models created from books, perhaps attend classes and workshops to learn how to implement them, to discover how to recognize and act when our emotional territory is being impinged upon, and when we are impinging on the emotional territory of another – to learn how to say “No” and the degree of “No” that is appropriate.

This is a study, and a necessary phase in our emotional and personal growth.


In the times when we do not have appropriate boundaries, when we are unable to say the right kind of “No,” when we compromise our own needs for the needs of others, we may be heeding advice from parts of ourselves who have emerged from the formative environment we once lived.

Thus we may capitulate when someone is inappropriately angry with us and refrain from speaking our needs

Or control those close to us and become overly involved in their lives and invade their emotional territory, maybe out of the fear they may leave us, as we once felt abandoned and alone when we were young.

However, no matter how versed or expert we are in understanding boundaries, their implementation is dependent upon our ability to affect healthy boundaries towards our own internal parts of ourselves, who may be asking us to cope with a past environment which no longer exists.

If these parts learned to sidestep trauma by clamming up rather than openly express disagreement, they will probably be advising us in the same fashion in our present relationships.

Responding to these parts creates an inner boundary. I have the right to say to these parts of me, “I do not agree with your approach.”


A part of me after a disagreement with my brother may feel the need to cut him out of my life and never speak to him again. I may instead decide against the part’s advice and choose to attempt to talk to him about my grievance. Alternatively, after due consideration I might conclude that talking to him has always led to conflict and it would be best to step back and create some space between us for a while. Thus, while not totally agreeing with the part, I have modified its advice to better suit the situation.

Such negotiation creates an inner boundary and establishes healthy control over our emotional system.


Creating inner boundaries allows us to establish appropriate boundaries in our external relationships.

In fact, the ability to set boundaries in our relationships is dependent upon our ability to set boundaries in our relationships with our own internal parts.

If these parts of ourselves, which were built to serve us in past challenging or traumatic situations have free rein, despite having the intellectual knowledge of what boundaries are and how to implement them in our daily relationships, we will always struggle.

We might have the best intentions to tell someone that how they were or what they said was totally inappropriate but we will never fully get to where we want to, because somewhere in our emotional system lies a part in wait who disagrees with this philosophy, who feels it is his or her duty to thwart such intentions, because it might once again lead to trauma. And, this part of ourselves will say to him/herself as he lies in wait, who wants to go through that again?

The relationships in our external world reflect the quality of relationships that exist in our internal emotional community.


If my inner parts are constantly intervening in my life so that I am making choices and decisions out of anxiety, then there is a lack of boundaries in my emotional system. These parts of myself are assuming leadership and I am not being given the respect and power to enforce discipline or boundaries.

This internal arrangement will be reflected in our personal lives. If we are challenged to enforce boundaries in our own emotional system, we will be equally challenged to enforce boundaries in our external relationships.

Thank you to the 377,505 of you who read my blog this past month, Pietro.

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To read more on internal parts and inner leadership, please click onto the links below:

We All Have a Part to Play

Which Part do You Not Get?

Are You In Command of the Direction Your Life is Taking?

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