How to Preserve and Protect Our "Yum" From Others

Photo of beautiful beach, shoreline, and azure-colored sea on sunny day
Image credit: photo by Kyle Cesmat on Unsplash.

In my first article in the four part "Don’t Yuck on my Yum" series, we talked about general ways to protect our good feelings from others and ourselves. In this article, we’ll go more in depth and learn how to protect our emotionally delicious feeling from the unintentionally negative comments or interactions with other people in our lives, both people who are close to us and strangers.

Most of us know that it’s our own responsibility to take care of ourselves emotionally, and this includes protecting our yum. Although others in our lives may have the potential to affect us in negative ways, we don’t have to allow this. One primary way of protecting ourselves is by setting healthy boundaries with the people in our lives.

What Is A Healthy Boundary?

A healthy boundary is telling someone directly, clearly and from my perspective kindly, what is okay and what is not okay, what we need and what we don’t need. When something is being asked of us that is not do-able, we need to let people know that, too. Alison Paulsen, PhD and communication expert, says that specificity is key, i.e. asking for a specific need, as in “I really need to be alone right now.”

When it comes to protecting our yum, boundary-setting is particularly important. For example, if you are eating a cheeseburger, and are thoroughly enjoying it, and your sister says, “Do you know how much cholesterol is in that?” , then it is okay and important for us to say something like, “I know you have my best interests in mind, however I need for you to not comment on what I’m eating. It is my decision to eat this.”

Another example:

  • You come home from a day at the beach feeling wonderful and relaxed and having thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Your partners asks, “How do you stand all that sand?”
  • Setting a boundary here might sound something like: “I had a magnificent day at the beach and I would appreciate it if you didn’t bring your own negative experience of the beach into my space or energy.”

Along the same lines, let’s imagine two people sitting outside and one partner starts talking about something that happened during their workday. Here is another place to set boundaries.

For instance, you could say: “I do want to talk about this, but can we do it later, as I’m really trying to enjoy this sunset”. It isn’t the other person’s responsibility to figure out when we are not ready to talk about something or that we are in the middle of enjoying our yum.

Any time you feel that sense that someone is trying to bring you out of the great mood or feeling, then it is not only acceptable, but also important to your mental health to calmly and kindly let the other person know your preferences.

It’s not unreasonable to want other people to really know that what they are saying or doing is not okay in this moment. It’s really up to us to let them know that and open up that communication.

Setting An Agreement With Family Members And Friends

When we are in a neutral place in a relationship, i.e. not in the middle of a conflict, it might be good to have a meaningful dialogue around not yucking on each other’s yum. This agreement is a concept that can be used with partners, friends or family members.

Talk through what both people need, perhaps defining some code words or phrases that might alter the other person’s actions, and how we would like to be approached when we notice that the other is “yucking on our yum”. This way, when something does occur with either person, there is some preparation already.

As mentioned, coming up with a phrase like “Please don’t yuck on my yum” can be used to great effect. Or, try something like: I could use a little space right now.

If the other person does not honor your verbalized request, you can use the phrase “Please stop.” Stop is one of the most under utilized four letter words in the English language. This doesn’t have to be shouted or said with aggression.

Act As If You Deserve It

We all deserve to maintain our yum. Even if you don’t fully believe in your core that you deserve it, act as if you do until you really feel it deeply.

In twelve-step programs, the concept to “act as if”, means that we act as if we already believe something or feel something, even if we are not there yet. 

When Strangers Disrupt Our Yum

We don’t often think that we have control over the outside world, whether that be at the DMV, in traffic, or at the grocery store. We can’t help it if people are crazy drivers or if the person in front of us has a negative interaction with the cashier. But we can protect our reactions to these things.

Some non-traditional methods of protecting our yum include:

  • Imagining a protective purple light around us.
  • Putting our attention on our breath.
  • Washing our hands, and letting go of anything not in our highest good. A guided daydream.
  • Connecting with our heart chakra (through breath or imagination).
  • Carrying around a protective stone (or crystal) – put our hands in our pocket or purse and connect with that.
  • Using guided imagery: really staying connected and feeling grounded and connected to our glorious feeling.
  • Finding a mantra that can bring us back to our yum.

Whichever one of these methods you choose, or if you find one of your own that works, the most important key is to pay attention to our own response. When something “negative” is occurring, either as a result of someone close to us or not, it is vital to really pay attention to our own response to it.

There is a difference between having an internal response to a situation or person and reacting to it. Pulling ourselves out of our own yummy spot, even though the catalyst was someone else.

If you struggle with protecting your own emotional energy, or are unsure of how to set boundaries without anger, it may be helpful to reach out to a licensed psychotherapist.

At Nassau Guidance & Counseling, we work with many people on issues of emotional stability and boundary-setting. Our trained therapists are experts in emotional guidance, and we look forward to speaking with you to help you keep your “yum”.

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