Defining non-negotiables means identifying and living with what is most important to us. This is a sacred promise we make to ourselves that reflects the values and principles we live by. They clearly define what we will or won’t accept from others, or ourselves and are a statement on how we want to be treated. These are the items that, if disrespected, are deal breakers. This commitment to what is most important, will be unique to each of us and our particular circumstances.
Non-negotiables can be thought of as a steady anchor that keeps us from floating through life without a clear sense of direction. Without a steady anchor we can be easily influenced by events and people, loosing ourselves, and what we hold dear. When we show up for ourselves and each other, honoring our boundaries, we build relationships on respect and trust and we build our own self-confidence.
When we choose our non-negotiables, we need to choose what we have control over. If someone treats us poorly and we stand up for ourselves, that person might not like it, but they will know what our boundaries are so we’re less likely to be treated that way again. Let’s remember we don’t have control of the outcome, but we do have control of our boundaries.
The process can start by listing a few top priorities. Stephen Covey writes, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.”
The yes is our non-negotiable which could be: respectful relationships, being kind to ourselves when we make mistakes, taking Sunday off from electronics, family time, or daily spiritual practices. Our list reflects the core things that sustain us. I read a story of a woman who loved to give dinner parties. She held everyone responsible for the attitude and behavior they brought into her home, so when a guest made a disrespectful remark, they were ushered out the front door and never invited in again. They violated her boundary of respectful behavior.
A change in circumstances may add new non-negotiables to the list. When I had cancer, I went through 6 surgeries in ten months. Life felt like I was either recovering from surgery, or getting ready for another one. Two new non-negotiables for me were small meals, and few visitors, so I could have the quiet healing time required. This was again an issue of respect. Anyone going through chemo or radiation needs to set some ground rules, because even well-intentioned friends and family can be overwhelming.
A present boundary for me is closing the door and insisting that no one disturb me when I am writing. I need my concentration unbroken, so I am practicing my commitment to self-care. I also honor my husband’s need not to be disturbed when he is painting. Non-negotiables are not luxuries, but are the anchor which supports everything else. They aren’t saved for emergencies, but are a part of everyday life.
Communicating our non-negotiables to the people in our life who mean the most enables them to support us, and keeps us accountable. This takes us to our highest level of integrity. When we become our own best friend, we only allow people into our sacred space who value who we are, and are important to our well-being.
Since our top priorities are the anchor for everything else, let’s take time to identify them. We’ll be happier, more productive, and experience richer relationships as a result. We can all experience the deep satisfaction of defining and living by our non-negotiables, which will enhance every day of our life.
Until Next Time – Sylvia