People who struggle with setting boundaries for themselves often struggle with saying "no." Using that word can literally bring up discomfort for them. For this reason, they over commit, don't end up with any time for themselves and can even be taken advantage of by others. Their friends, family, partners and coworkers can develop unfair expectations of them as the "person who will always be there."

There are several issues that typically underly the inability to say "no" which is an article for another time. However, if you are someone who'd like to start setting more defined boundaries for yourself, then I have some ideas about how to begin.

Here are three suggestions of how to say "no" that don't include making up an excuse.

1) "I can't right now." This allows for the possibility of doing it at another time but is a softer way of saying "no."
2) "My plate is too full to commit to anything else right now." Most people can relate to this.
3) "I'm not able to but maybe I can help find someone else who can." You set your boundary while showing concern.

Keep in mind that learning to say "no" takes practice and you likely will need to push past uncomfortable feelings to get there. Also know that you might be met with some resistance from people who are baffled by the change in you. It might come in a look or even attempting to talk you into their request. Keep focused on what you're trying to accomplish. You're not only making personal changes but are modifying the expectations of others around you.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Brookes Kift is an Individual and Relationship Therapist in San Diego, California. She has written numerous mental health and relationship articles, tips and tools which can be seen on her therapy and resource website at