We’ve all done it, told those “little white lies” to make things easier, to get us out of a bind, or to get out of something we never felt comfortable with in the first place. We tell ourselves it’s OK because we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings and make them feel bad, but in truth we’re just trying to make things easier on ourselves because we didn’t have the courage to set a boundary with that person and speak our truth. Boundaries can be scary to set, especially when we haven’t been known to set them and the people in our lives are used to just walking all over us, or getting us to do what they want, but they are essential for building healthy relationships and building our self-esteem, also, once we practice setting boundaries in our lives, it creates situations that are far less stressful, and typically situations that have more of an outcome we’re looking for. Boundaries are the clarifier, they are the rules that you set in a relationship or a situation of how you would like to be spoken to or treated, they, along with intentions, keep things pretty simple, if we practice the art of sharing them with others.
So, how do we learn to set boundaries, and how do we get to know what they are for us in the first place?
1) Know Where You Stand, or at least find out. You can’t set a good boundary unless you know where you stand or how you feel about the person our situation, so ask yourself how you feel and why, and make sure you can back it up with solid reasons. What do you need to feel safe in the relationship or in a particular situation? What makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable? When you can identify those things and know how you feel and why, you are on the road to setting a healthy boundary.
2) Tap Into How You Feel. This is a continuation of the point above. But ask yourself why you feel you need to set a boundary, what feelings come up when you think about the person or situation. Do you feel stressful, do you have a resentment? What is it that is coming up that makes you want to put up a wall or a safe zone for yourself? And, is there anything that you can take action on, aside from setting the boundary, that will make the situation more desirable for you? Get in touch with your feelings.
3) Be Clear. Once you know how you feel and why, communicate in a clear and concise way, there’s no need to over-explain your decision or choice, you have a right to set any boundary you like, so by keeping it simple, not drudging up the past, or pointing fingers, keeping your communication to the point and explaining that you need to set the boundary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mind should be enough for someone to get on board, if not, that may be a sign that they’re not willing to change, or see you change, they might not like the idea of you not interacting with them as you always have. If that is that case, then you can still set your boundary and let them know that if they want to be in our life, that’s the condition you need them to follow.
4) Allow Yourself To Set The Boundary. Many times when we’re starting out at this we feel guilty for trying to set a boundary with someone, we feel like we’re being difficult or don’t deserve “special behavior,” which is untrue. Never apologize for who are you are, and who you’re working so hard to become. You are showing yourself self-respect, never apologize for that.
5) Be Aware Of Yourself. Keep checking in with yourself. If you are feeling different or have changed, ask yourself why, or what has made the difference. As you start practicing this skill you will feel a roller coaster of emotions, they will go up and down as it’s new to you, so keep track of your feelings, make sure they’re based in fact and ask yourself what they are telling you.
6) What Has Your Role Been In The Past? Look at who you typically are in relationships or in situations. Are you always trying to play the caretaker and focus on others? Are you shut down and closed off from others? Do you find yourself reacting to things in extreme measures? When we look at our past we start to see our patterns of what we’ve typically done, when we can acknowledge those, we can learn to break those patterns, or lessen them, to find a happier balance.
7) Self-Care. I’ve talked about this one a lot, it’s an important one always. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, giving yourself what you need to live the life you want to live. Along with that self-care comes setting boundaries. Give yourself permission to think of yourself first, to make sure your needs are met, once they are we are better able to help others and make an impact in the world around us.
8) Find Your Tribe. Look for like-minded individuals, people who are striving for the same things you are, or maybe are further up the path than you are who inspire you, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it, or support, the act of asking for help not only helps you it also benefits the other person, so always ask.
9) Follow Through. We all can sit alone and think about all the ways we’re going to stand up for ourselves, what we’re going to say, and how we’re going to do it, but until we take action and actually do it, it means nothing. Follow through, be assertive and ask for what you want.
10) Build As You Go. When we first start to set boundaries for ourselves we sometimes charge at the most difficult ones and if it doesn’t go the way we imagined we recoil and go hide. Start small and know it’s a process, build as you go, getting to the bigger or more challenging boundaries as you learn this new skill and pick up more self-confidence as you go. Life is not a race, take your time.
Boundaries can be hard, but keeping secrets from people or lying to them does not replace just being honest and asking for what you need and want. The more we learn to tune in to what we need and setting those boundaries in our lives the more productive, interactive, and connected we’ll feel, giving us a strong foundation on our road to SLAYDOM.
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you have trouble setting boundaries in your life? Why? Do you think you don’t deserve to communicate what you need? Why? Do you see how when we are able to set healthy boundaries in our lives that we find self-esteem and self-love for ourselves? Is that something you would like to find in yourself? If not, why? You deserve to be treated the way you would like to, it also goes to how we treat others, we show people by example how we wish to be treated, and when we need to reinforce certain things, we do that with a clear and concise boundary, not making excuses for it, or over-explaining it, the only explanation that we need is the one to yourself.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you