We all know someone like this. Someone who does not acknowledge or respect the subtle hints, or at times, not so subtle hints outlining our boundaries. How does that make us feel? Why do we feel the way we do? How can we stop it from happening again? How can we not feel guilty about setting up our boundaries? These are some of the questions I hear when talking to people about boundaries. This week I want to walk you through how to set up boundaries and what that means for you.
It is said that we cannot control how others behave and feel, we can only control how you feel and react. Boundaries play a major role in this control. Boundaries are set to let people know how we see ourselves, how we want to be treated, what we deem acceptable behavior in our presence, and how we want others to be present in our life. In times that we feel overwhelm or exhaustion it is because we have not set boundaries or clear enough boundaries for other people to see. For most of us setting boundaries is uncomfortable because we feel like we are saying no, we are becoming distant, we are showing that we are not a team player, you name it. The problem with not setting boundaries is that you are allowing everyone to take what they need and want from you and leaving you with nothing. And the only person you have to blame is yourself. People will only take what you give them permission to take. So how can you stop feeling overwhelmed and drained and start feeling energized and empowered.
The four steps below are the building blocks to setting boundaries.
Step One: Self Awareness
How do you see yourself? What do you value? How do you want to be seen? Knowing who you are is critical to setting boundaries. If you don’t know who you are and what you want out of a relationship, your profession, friendships, or life, how are others going to know this information. Step one is a hard one but one that needs to be understood before moving on to the next steps.
Step Two: Know When Your Boundaries Have Been Crossed
In what situations in the past have you felt uncomfortable? exhausted? unhappy? What happened in those situations? Did someone ask more of you then you were willing to give? Did someone not treat you the way in which you wanted to be treated? How did you react? How did you feel? The best way to move forward and start taking control is to understand in our past when we felt out of control or felt less than we wanted and examine the situation. In order to not feel that way again, we have to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes or put ourselves in those types of situations. Once you recall and reflect on when in the past your boundaries have been crossed, you will be better prepared on setting boundaries in the future.
Step Three: Setting Up Boundaries That Work For You
The great thing about boundaries is that they are yours. You are not setting up boundaries for someone else. You are setting up guidelines for other people to follow in order to make your relationship and interaction healthy and one that you enjoy. It is important when setting up boundaries that you determine what that looks like. Do your boundaries change for different people and different situations? If this is the case, know why there are exceptions and make that clear to yourself. Think of your boundaries as a fence around your home. Do you want it to be an electric fence (only you know where the boundary is), a picket fence (one that looks nice but is more welcoming then deterring), a four foot high solid fence (creates clear distinction of boundaries), or an eight foot wall (only a few shall pass)? The importance of setting up your boundaries is to help you create the life you want.
Step Four: No Apologies and No Guilt
Many of us feel guilty when we set up boundaries. We feel that setting boundaries is saying “No” to people when in fact we are saying “Yes” to the one person that matters the most, ourselves. Setting your boundaries is letting you and the world know how you see yourself and how you want to be treated. Respect yourself and others will respect you. Love yourself and others will love you. Value yourself and others will value you. Boundaries are a way of showing the world that you respect, love, and value yourself. Aren’t you worth that?