Month: October 2021

How Painting Helped Me Conquer Perfectionism

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.

-JK Rowling

I’ve always described myself as a perfectionist. I wore it like a badge of honor.

To me, it meant that I had high standards. I was hard-working and dedicated. I cared about everything I did, and always did my best.

The opposite would be quitting. Giving up and being half-hearted.

I credited my perfectionism with good grades at school, turning out essays that were rewritten until they felt perfect. After I graduated, it meant doing well at my corporate job, putting in extra time, and taking on more and more responsibilities, often for no extra pay or even recognition! I did more all the time because I needed it to be exactly so.

But then I started to notice something. I was outwardly doing well, getting good at my job and earning recognition too. Yet it felt small.

I’d always thought of myself as someone who tried their best, but the truth is that I was a quitter, not a trier. I abandoned anything that I wasn’t immediately good at. And each time I made a mistake, no matter how small, I dropped that task or interest too. I was narrowing my experiences to a smaller and smaller list of things I was certain I could do well.

I was so afraid of failing, I wasn’t even trying anymore.

Because that’s what perfectionism is really. Fear of failure. It’s paralyzing because the gnawing pressure means you can’t start anything. It’s cowardice dressed up as high standards.

And there was so much I wanted to try. There were so many things I felt sure I’d enjoy, but never had a go at. What if I failed? What if I was rubbish? The idea was so unbearable that it was easier to leave it as an unknown. If I didn’t try, I couldn’t fail.

I often spent time watching other people do amazing things and feel bitterly envious. I spent hours scrolling through social media, watching people make beautiful artworks. I loved seeing their hands create, and I felt this pull to have a go. But I put it off, scared I wouldn’t be any good.

And then one day I was heading out to meet a friend, and she was running late. And I found myself waiting for her outside a shopping center when I spotted an art supply store. And before I could stop myself, I bought a tiny set of paints, some paper, and brushes.

I headed home full of anticipation, opened them up, and started painting. And the results were… really bad. Frustrated, I pushed everything into a drawer and decided to forget the idea.

But then a weird thing happened – I kept thinking about being a quitter. And so I got the paints back out and started again. And I’m still terrible at painting, but my motivation this time isn’t diminished. I decided to share my progress on social media, showing the workings behind the scenes, the effort instead of the filtered perfection.

Now, three years later, I paint almost every day and have set up my own art business. I regularly fail and make a mess, but I never quit. And even better, I’m constantly trying new subjects and other mediums. I’ve had experiences that just a few years ago I couldn’t even have imagined. I’ve taught online painting workshops and attended life drawing classes. I’ve sparked friendships with fellow creatives from around the world.

And most importantly, I’ve failed a bunch and I just kept going. Because I’m no longer aiming for perfection or even excellence, I’m simply enjoying the process. And I’m so much happier.

Now, my advice to fellow perfectionists who want to change their lives is this: recognize that’s a fear, not a strength. Pick something you’ve always wanted to try and get stuck in, and then make yourself come back again tomorrow too. You won’t regret it.

painting perfectionism

Productivity Leads to Happiness

hap·pi·ness /ˈhapēnəs/ noun — the state of being happy. Synonyms: contentment, pleasure, contentedness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, cheeriness, merriment, merriness, gaiety, joy, joyfulness, joyousness, joviality, jollity, jolliness, glee, blitheness, carefreeness gladness, delight, good spirits, high spirits, light heartedness, good cheer, well-being, enjoyment, felicity.

Money and Happiness

What is the relationship between money and happiness? Is money a cause, and happiness an effect? Or is money evil, and a hindrance to happiness?

Most people have heard contradictory assertions about money, ranging from “money makes people happier” to “money is the root of all evil.” Upon close examination, one can see the relationship between the two.

Money is a medium of exchange for values.

A person produces values and exchanges those values for money. The more values one produces and exchanges with others, the more money he or she can accumulate.

Then the person can use this money to produce more values, and purchase values from others. This is a very simplified explanation of wealth production.

What about happiness? Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is the achievement of one’s core values.

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand and companies determine if they are on the right path towards fulfilling their goals.

Say a person consciously values an enriching love relationship. That person then prepares herself to experience such a relationship. Later, she meets someone that she admires, and they initiate a relationship.

That relationship then develops into a growing love relationship. She may not explicitly grasp the dynamics involved, but she feels happy.

Happiness is an effect. The cause of happiness is achieving one’s values.

This presumes that a person has chosen a hierarchy of values. If a person holds money as a high value and earns it, he or she will experience happiness.

The same is true of all values, such as self-esteem, romantic love, and aesthetic pleasures. Ultimately, however, happiness along with prosperity, and romantic love, depends on one fundamental condition.

Without this condition, one will not experience abiding happiness, prosperity, or romantic love. What is that condition?

That condition is “productive accountability”.

Productive Accountability

ac·count·a·bil·i·ty /əˌkoun(t)əˈbilədē/ noun — the fact or condition of being accountable. Synonyms: responsibility, liability, answerability.

No matter how much money or material abundance we might have, productive work is essential to our happiness. Even if a person wins a billion-dollar lottery, that person would need to engage in productive accountable activities to experience abiding happiness.

Why would even a billionaire need to engage in productive accountable activities to achieve abiding happiness?

Wouldn’t that billionaire be able to buy his/her way to happiness?

Wouldn’t that person derive happiness from the unlimited access and consumptions to material goods?

The reason every adult human being needs to engage in productive accountable work is for physical and psychological survival. Higher causes or altruistic reasons or duty to one’s family, community, or nation are a bonus, but at the most basic level — we need to create to survive.

We don’t engage in productive work because of tacit or expressed obligations to others. The only reason to engage in productive work is for our own physical and psychological survival.

In the case of the billionaire, or any individual who is financially independent, he or she still needs to be productive to experience happiness. The individual who becomes financially independent, no longer works for physical survival. The individual’s material needs are already taken care of. He or she works for psychological fulfillment.

Increased Self-Esteem

Productive work can deliver the self-esteem that is needed for psychological survival. Sexual conquests cannot deliver the self-esteem needed for psychological survival. Neither can praying, hobbies, manipulating others, drug use, criminal scores, killing, or any other activity.

In the long run, the avoidance of productive work leads to the subconscious thought, “I wish I was dead.” It causes neurosis!

Productive accountable work is the foundation of happiness.

Productivity is also the foundation of prosperity. Productive work is indispensable to human beings. Producing more values than one consumes is the essence of a productive accountable and happy life.

Equally important is that no one can dictate to others what work to engage in. For some people’s productive work might consist of landscaping, painting, composing music, or writing. For others, these may simply be hobbies.

Others might choose teaching, healing, or engineering as their means of productive work. The guiding principle here is that productive work requires a long-range perspective, rational goals, a focused mind, and consistent effort.

We need to approach productive work rationally to experience abiding prosperity and happiness. This applies to all productive work, including janitorial work, sales, artwork, building a business, or any other productive activity, including philanthropy.

If productive work is the foundation for all abiding happiness and earned prosperity, and essentially everyone wants to be happy and prosperous, why doesn’t everyone engage in productive work?

There is a two-part answer to this question.

The first part deals with a deeply personal matter. That personal matter is a choice every human being on the planet must make. Each person must make the choice to exert the consistent effort that productive work demands. In essence, each individual human being must make the following choice: to exert consistent effort or default to laziness.

The second part of the answer is a cultural issue. The culture in the upside-down command and control world cleverly works to foster laziness, co-dependency on others, incompetence, and criminal thinking.

A lot of people want to live like a billionaire without earning it, and just have a good old time consuming more than they produce. This unfortunately does not create self-happiness for the long haul.

The command-and-control culture subtly spreads a dependency attitude in the minds of people. As people absorb this cleverly promoted attitude throughout their life, they subconsciously accept it.

People begin to think it is “cool” to take it easy, sit back, and let others do the work. Those who exert the constant high effort needed for value production are labeled as uncool, overachievers, workaholics, or other disparaging names.

Treat People with Dignity

When I was a child, I depended on my parents to survive. As I became an adult, I learned to depend on myself. I was lucky. My father taught me the value of being productive as a teenager. While my friends were having a good time partying, I was being taught the value of money by contributing to the mortgage, and household expenses.

My mom and dad didn’t need the money, and at the time, I could not stand my father for asking me to contribute like 80% of my part-time hard-earned money towards living expenses. I was 17. Years later, I thanked my dad for teaching me responsibility, but more importantly for letting me earn my fulfillment in life and grow to appreciate the importance of self-reliance, and productive work.

My dad treated me like an adult early in life, in order for me to become one.

When you treat people like adults who can take care of things, you give them the freedom they need to break away from co-dependency. You give them the freedom to find their own way in life. You give them the ability to earn their own fulfillment. You give them the ability to create happiness in their lives. You give people their dignity.

This is not just a theory. There are companies today who have embraced freedom at work, and who treat employees as co-creators, as adults. The results are companies outperforming the S&P by a factor of 10X and very low attrition rates.

At Nearsoft, (now Encora) for example, we have the lowest attrition of any company in our industry, because we’ve been treating our co-creators as adults for over a decade. Our people are engaged, free, super productive and happy.

Freedom to be productive on our own terms leads to a happy life — it’s that simple.

Get Out of the Funk

Productivity will get you out of a funk too. I recently got a call from a member of my men’s circle of eight years ago. He shared with me how he didn’t make consistent effort to being productive over the past 40 working years of his life.

As a result, he is not in a favorable place in his life right now. He is going through a divorce, is nursing an injury, isn’t working because of his injury and isn’t earning a living. He is living in the back of a construction job site, while his stuff is in storage.

I truly feel for him because he is being hit by a perfect storm. He shared with me how guilty he feels needing help, when a family member is dealing with stage three cancer. I simply replied to him: “Your perfect storm feels to you like you are fighting stage three cancer, doesn’t it?” Everything we experience in life is relative to how we perceive things and our state of consciousness.

I talk about my own perfect storm in my new book “Emotionally Aware Leadership”, and how it was a gift in my life. A wake-up call.

After hearing him pitying himself, and shaming himself, and being a victim, I simply asked him: If you went to sleep and woke up tomorrow with clear vision of what you need to do, what would that be?

By sharing with him my own perfect storm experience I was able to help him realize he isn’t the only man in the world, who has had to reinvent himself.

After more conversation, we agreed on him getting his living situation in order first. Just the sense of him having to be productive towards a goal, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, gave him a needed boost to feel a sense of purpose.

That sense of purpose lifted his spirits. This brings me to the final point I wish to leave you with.

If you feel stuck, not knowing what to do, being lazy in your own wallow…. feeling a little down on yourself, feeling a little less than…. the first thing you need to do, is get into action. The moment you get back to being productive, is the moment you start feeling happy again.

*Originally published at

Tullio Siragusa is an expert level Certified Life Coach, a pioneer of disruptive technologies, an emotional intelligence (EQ) thought leader, futurist, speaker, and author. For the past 30 years, Tullio has built world class leadership teams in technology companies and startups. Tullio currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at Nearsoft, he co-produces and hosts DojoLIVE! a platform that gives voice to emerging technology luminaries. He also hosts Rant & Grow, an entertaining and heart-centered reality podcast where each episode explores people’s personal blockages and how to powerfully move forward with careers, relationships, and self-realization by developing healthy habits. As a founding member of Radical, a social justice movement, Tullio is a strong supporter of human-dignity in all aspects of life, including freedom in the workplace.

Image courtesy of ELEVATE.

How to exercise right for metabolic syndrome

How to exercise right for metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of disorders that affects between 20 – 30% of Australian adults. It greatly increases your chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke, or developing type 2 diabetes. So, is exercise safe for people with metabolic syndrome? And what types of exercise are best? Let’s take a look…

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is not a medical issue that appears overnight. For those that have this diagnosis, it is likely that you’ve spent some time in the medical system working to treat other health concerns. This syndrome is diagnosed from a collection of cardiovascular risk factors. Central obesity (waist circumference: men >102cm, women > 88cm) is initially diagnosed, followed by a combination of two of either:

  • Hypertension (blood pressure: >130 / >85 mmHg)
  • Hyperglycaemia ( >15mmol/L)
  • decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL: men < 1.0 mmol/L, women <1.3mmol/L),
  • and increased triglycerides (TG: > 1.7mmol/L)1,2.

The combination of these risk factors can lead to future development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

What are the risk factors?

There are several groups more likely to develop this syndrome, including older adults, overweight and obese individuals. Women are known to be at a higher risk of syndrome development than men, with females trending towards greater central adipose tissue levels, lower HDL levels and elevated triglyceride levels post menopause.

How can exercise help?

The type of exercise performed can illicit different benefits for individuals with metabolic syndrome. It has been established that exercise training can partly reverse metabolic syndrome, with the most effective intensity required still to be determined. The main areas of focus are aerobic and resistance-based exercise. Aerobic exercise refers to activity creating stress on the cardiovascular system (i.e. heart and lungs).  Typical methods of completion include long periods of moderately intensive activity with rest periods of a similar length, or continuous activity for greater than 30 minutes maintaining the same work intensity. Resistance based exercise focusses predominantly on building muscle mass, which facilitates greater glucose uptake into the muscular tissue.

The combination of both resistance and aerobic activity can assist with improving the action of insulin in the process of glucose removal, and in turn assist with improved control of blood glucose levels. These activities can also assist with other risk factors of metabolic syndrome including reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, improvement to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and improve mental health conditions associated with diagnosis (e.g. depression).

exercise and metabolic syndrome

Everyone is different

One single type of recommended exercise prescription does not exist specifically for metabolic syndrome. Guidelines take into consideration all 5 potential risk factors, as well as any resulting related health conditions. For this reason, a combination of guidelines, as determined by the appropriate health professional, will be individualised per case. Aerobic activity (i.e. walking, swimming, cycling) recommendations span between 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week, with resistance (body-weight or weights based) training included on three to four non-consecutive days. The key to following any of these guidelines is that they must be sustained for a long duration.

An Accredited Exercise Physiologist should be approached as soon as possible in this process! An exercise intervention can be useful to assist with managing any presenting risk factors prior to an official metabolic syndrome, or once a diagnosis has been made. Your exercise physiologist will cater programming towards what is most suitable for you, focusing not only on the medical conditions you have presented with, but also what you’re capable of and what you would like to achieve.

Written by Nicola Carlish, Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

How Does Doubt Lead Us to Our Full Potential?

For too long, I’ve viewed doubt as a weakness. As a decisive person, it never made sense to me why someone would wait in line to order food for twenty minutes or more and still not have a decision ready when it’s their turn. Especially when there’s a massive menu on the wall facing you while you wait. By “never made sense”, I mean it drove me berzerk. I used to feel like there was something wrong with a person who does this.

Why can’t people just make up their minds?

But those of us on the decisive side of the ledger have our issues too. We get in over our heads sometimes. We overcommit. We wish we would have thought things through more clearly. We fail to respect the consequences of our decisions. We oftentimes fly by the seat of our pants.

Overconfidence leads to disappointment. And indecision leaves unrealized potential. Neither of these paths sound very promising.

Maybe there’s a third way.

What if doubt actually illuminates the best path forward? Not doubt that ends in paralysis. But doubt that demands better answers. That kind of doubt may actually be necessary to grow and find meaningful solutions to vexing problems. Francis Bacon, an English philosopher credited with helping develop the scientific method, wrote almost 400 years ago that:

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” ― Francis Bacon, The Oxford Francis Bacon IV: The Advancement of Learning

Think about what he is saying. If we are too sure of ourselves too quickly and fail to ask tough questions, we end up on shaky ground. The conclusion is weak. We see something that contradicts our idea and it all falls apart.

If on the other hand, we test and probe ideas with rigor, we arrive with greater confidence and elegance. Doubt can make us more insightful. Doubt can bring us positive energy. But how do we avoid the indecision that can come along for the ride?

I think the key is to be willing to doubt your doubt.

Ask questions. Be skeptical. Doubt. And then doubt the doubt.

This process does not need to end with indecision. The goal is to get a full range of possibilities on the table so that you can choose. By taking the time to consider the complete spectrum, we can raise the possibility of finding the best path.

Let’s look at how this principle can help to maximize our full potential in three of life’s most important areas.

New Relationships

We’ve all experienced the feeling before. Someone new comes into your life. You just ‘click’. Conversation is easy. There’s strong attraction. Things flow in the most natural of ways. The relationship feels like it’s meant to be. All of your feelings are signaling that this is something special. And maybe it is.

But we have to recognize that our feelings can lie to us. The reason is that our feelings come from our perceptions and beliefs. If our perceptions and beliefs aren’t correct, they can produce misguided feelings.

Doubt can test those perceptions and beliefs. Ask yourself why I feel so strongly about this person? It’s easy to gloss over the root beliefs you have while you are awash in pleasant feelings. But there are beliefs that underlie the feelings.

Find out what the beliefs and perceptions are and you can test them. What qualities am I assigning to this person? What do I believe about them that causes me to feel so strongly? The beliefs are unlikely to be 100% correct.

Getting to mostly correct means your feelings are on the right track. Mostly incorrect could indicate your feelings are leading you astray.

What I’m describing is a romantic connection but it really applies to all relationships.

I’ve felt high conviction positive feelings about business partnerships that turned out horribly. Had I taken the time to dig a bit deeper, I could have avoided pain and suffering for everyone involved.

We’re neither talking about burying feelings or putting them in charge of our decisions. We’re simply taking the time to understand where they are coming from so that we can evaluate the veracity of what they are telling us.

For this reason, I avoid anyone who demands faith or loyalty on a shortened timeline. That is a non-negotiable red flag. If I see this type of behavior, I run.

Evaluating human relationships is hard. Our hearts are complicated and deeply conflicted in many ways. Healthy doubt can help avoid the wrong relationships. And it can deepen the right ones.

Major Decisions That Involve Risk

Even a decisive person like me can feel frozen by truly consequential life decisions. Whether to proceed with a major business deal that involves debt. Whether to give up a secure job to start a new company. Whether to move to another country. These are big risks. Doubt is natural here.

It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of making the move. This could be my big breakthrough. And then the fear sets in.

Dig into it.

Get down to the root of that fear. All fear is really fear of failure in some sense. In this case, it’s important to get more specific. What specific consequences are at the bottom of the fear of failure? Is it reasonable? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

I once had this conversation with a multimillionaire client who confided that he feared ending up homeless. Anything is possible but not everything is reasonable. Ending up homeless was an irrational fear for him. It held him back about a major change. And it was more rooted in beliefs instilled in at a very early age. By examining the specific fears more closely, he was able to doubt his doubts and move forward.

Testing the assumptions led to a more confident decision for him.

Faith and Belief

I’m transparent and open about my Christian beliefs. And I have a number of friends who are not believers. If our conversations turn to faith, I frequently get some variation of this comment :

I can’t believe in God because I have too much doubt.

I’m going to let all of my non-believing friends in on something. Most Christians also wrestle with doubt. Some of us struggle with it a lot. But we’re in good company because expressions of doubt are found throughout the Bible.

Perhaps the most famous doubter is the disciple Thomas who famously doubted Jesus’ resurrection. Thomas demanded more evidence before he would believe. Whether you believe in the supernatural or rather that this is a story, what’s remarkable is that Jesus gave him the exact evidence he sought. He didn’t refuse Thomas because he doubted. After seeing and touching Jesus’ wounds, Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”(John 20:28).

The Bible contemplates doubt. And it’s often the doubt that leads to growth and fulfillment.

Another common comment I hear from non-believer friends is:

I just can’t bring myself to blindly believe that there’s a God when there’s no evidence it’s true.

It’s an interesting argument. But faith isn’t really opposed to reason if you think about it. We can’t prove the existence or non-existence of God. So either belief is faith by definition. If you believe there is no God, you are acting out of faith. Because you have no evidence that He doesn’t exist.

What faith does run in opposition to, though, is often our sight. What we see conflicts with what we hear or believe. We see suffering in the world and question the existence of God for example.

It’s understandable to have doubt about God’s existence or goodness based on what we see in the world.

But doubting the doubt can lead to a different conclusion. If God doesn’t exist, how could there be moral judgments on suffering or injustice?

“Survival of the fittest” would be the only valid governing principle. It couldn’t be judged as ‘evil’ since a code of morality would have no foundation. There couldn’t be right or wrong. Those value judgments have no place in a survival of the fittest framework. How could they?

The cause of the original doubt was the evil and suffering we see. But where could the judgment of goodness or badness come from without God or a supernatural power? It is hard to see how moral arguments can fit into pure natural selection.

Again, faith is not opposed to reason. And working through the doubt helps establish a stronger argument.

Handling Other People’s Doubt

As I’ve learned how healthy cynicism can lead to meaningful growth, it has changed the way I respond to doubt in other people. I don’t want to stifle someone else’s growth.

If someone close to me is expressing doubt, I resist the urge to convince them they’re wrong; especially if it’s about something I deeply care about. Ask questions. Learn about their perspective. And let them wrestle with it.

Maybe they’re expressing doubt about me. That’s okay. If I’m blessed enough to have someone believe in me, it will have more meaning if it’s been tested anyway.

Once I fully understand their point of view, then it’s appropriate to challenge their thinking. People are better prepared to have their thinking challenged when they have had the opportunity to be heard and work through the doubt on their own.

No matter what the result, I have helped my friend, family member, or loved one arrive at a stronger conclusion that they can own for themselves.

It’s very likely they couldn’t have gotten there without some healthy doubt.

Brent Rupnow is a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Exit Planning Advisor, Christian, adventure lover, and aesthetic.

Image courtesy of SHVETS production.

How to Set Boundaries and Why Setting Them Is Important

How to Set Boundaries


Setting boundaries gives you control over your life and your time, and protects you from manipulation and doing things you don’t want to do.

Setting boundaries means the ability to say ‘no’, to stop allowing people to exploit and manipulate you.

Acting in this way means that you respect your life and your interests, and acknowledge that your own plans, goals and tasks are also important.

Acting in this way, allows you to find time for yourself and for the things you love doing, instead of enslaving yourself to the whims and desires of other people.

You can set boundaries at work, with colleagues, in relationships, and every other area of your life.

Emotional Detachment

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Setting boundaries for other people, your family, friends, co-workers and strangers, protects you from unnecessary stress, anger and resentment.

Do You Set Boundaries and Limits in Your Everyday life?

  • How many times you were not able to say ‘NO’, and accepted other people’s requests and whims?
  • Do you allow your coworkers to delegate their work to you and you cannot say ‘NO’?
  • Do you feel awkward and guilty when you say ‘NO’ to your children, friends or the sales person at the store?
  • How many times have you felt anger and frustration due to your inability to say ‘NO’ to others and say ‘YES’ to yourself?

If the above holds true for you, you need to learn to set boundaries. This becomes easier if you can display a certain degree of emotional detachment and calmness.

Acting in this way does not mean that you are uncaring and focused on yourself. It means respecting other people, but also respecting yourself, your priorities and your goals.

You can respect people and help them, yet be able to say ‘NO’ when this is the right thing to do.

Your inability to set limits to what people can ask you do, to say ‘NO’ and show inner strength can create a lot of resentment and unhappiness.

Why not try to inject a little dose of inner strength and confidence into your life and stop playing the role of a doormat?

“No is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamont

Why Do You Need to Set Boundaries?

Personal boundaries are important because they set the guidelines of how you want to be treated. It is a declaration of your rights. Boundaries mean closing the door to what you do not want in your life.

Boundaries are guidelines that you establish, so people know what you allow and what you do not allow.

It’s a way to teach people how you wish to be treated and what kind of behavior is acceptable.

Setting boundaries is a way to protect your physical, emotional and mental well-being, to avoid stress, and keep away from other people’s negative thoughts and emotions.

The limits you impose by your words, behavior and reactions tell people what to expect from you.

Setting boundaries ensures that relations in any area of life can be mutually respectful, appropriate, and caring.

They are a sort of a fence you set in order to protect your time and your well-being, which people should not pass. If you don’t set limits, you allow people to utilize your resources, spend your time, and make you do things you do not want to do.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.” – Brene Brown

You might like reading: Setting boundaries quotes.

Learn to Say NO

You can be respectful and kind, and still say ‘NO’ to people.

You might feel inconvenient and awkward when you refuse a request. Don’t let this hold you from saying ‘NO’ when you feel it is the right thing to do.

Other people are important, but you too, and your time, are important.

Start saying ‘NO’ on some occasions, when you feel that people are exploiting you, when you have more important things to do, or when you really don’t have the time.

You might feel inconvenience to do so and some guilt. You might also feel that you will spoil relationship and make people become angry at you.

In most cases, people would respect you, if you are polite and kind toward them, and explain in a few short words why you cannot comply with their wish.

For more guidelines, read the article Learn How to Say No.

How to Set Boundaries

In what way can you set boundaries. How to let people know what you accept and what you do not accept?

  • Use the word ‘NO’ when appropriate. There are times where you should cooperate and say ‘YES’. You need to use your common sense.
  • Always remember that your life, your plans and your goals are no less important than other’s people.
  • Set priorities and do your best to stick with them.
  • Avoid getting involved with people’s worries and negative thinking. You can help people without getting emotionally and mentally agitated by their stories. This is not insensitivity. This is wisdom and common sense.
  • Develop a certain degree of willpower and self-discipline. If you wish to increase your willpower and possess more self-discipline, I highly recommend that you study the book Build Up Willpower and Self Discipline.
  • Express yourself. If you do not accept a certain behavior, say so. If you do not agree with someone about something related to you, say so.
  • If someone wants something from you, but you are busy or have some other priorities, refuse, but do so politely.
  • Stop saying yes just because you feel the need to please others.
    ” Practice being patient. Practice being calm, and do not react rashly, without thinking first.
  • Never accept too many tasks, beyond your ability.
  • Show some assertiveness to back up your decision to say ‘NO’, but remember to do so in a polite way. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness. These are two totally different things.
Emotional DetachmentPinPin

Learn How to Stay Calm and Poised in Stressful Situations

Stop taking everything too personally and becoming upset by what people say and do.Get the eBook

Emotional Detachment and Setting Boundaries

Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices. – Gerard Manley Hopkins

A certain degree of emotional detachment would give you the backbone and inner strength to say ‘NO’, and refuse to be emotionally manipulated.

It would help you set boundaries, so that agitating words and emotions do not disturb your state of mind.

It would make you immune to what people say or do, and enable you not to take personally what people say.

People respect those who set boundaries and have the courage to say ‘no’.

I would like to end this article with a few words about the importance of emotional detachment.

When referring to emotional detachment I am not talking about alienating yourself from people and breaking up communication. Not at all. I am referring to positive emotional detachment.

  1. This attitude and state of mind helps you stop taking personally what people say or do.
  2. It helps you protect your mental and emotional well-being.
  3. It creates a state of emotional and mental calmness and peace that protects you from negative feelings and negative thoughts.
  4. When built correctly, this skill, and it is a skill, enables to set boundaries easily and effortlessly, whenever it is necessary. It would be hard to manipulate you or play with your feelings.
  5. It would free you from the past and from emotional burdens and set you free from them.
  6. It would help you become unbiased, think clearly and with common sense, and therefore, be in a better position to see people’s motives.

All this of course, would put you in a better position to stop emotional and mental manipulation, doing things you do not want to do, and complying with whatever people ask or want you to do.


  • Set limits to what people can ask you to do.
  • Be helpful and caring, but use common sense.
  • Refuse to be manipulated.
  • Always remember that you and your time are important.
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The Hedonic Buffet

Every day around 3 pm, my dog takes a nap.

As far as dogs go, he has a ton of available options. He could hang in the backyard, chase a squirrel, whatever. But in that moment, every day, the choice with the most benefit for him appears to be a nap.

We’re not that different.

Except times a billion.

In any given moment, you could read a blog like this one. Or watch a video. Or check your email. Or send an email. Or…

We choose.

We choose to see what Wolf Blitzer thinks is breaking news. We choose to have an argument or send a compliment. We do it largely out of habit, and our habit is grooved by countless choices in countless moments that came before.

Like the buffet, it probably won’t make you happier to keep loading your plate up simply because you can.

Our best path usually begins by acknowledging that we do, in fact, have a choice.

*Originally published on sethsblog.

Seth Godin has written eighteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and, most of all, changing everything.

Image courtesy of Christian Domingues.