"When I get home from work, I am just too tired to write the novel I've been planning."
"The best time for me to workout is in the morning, but I've got to get the kids ready for school while my husband is at the gym."
"I try not to, but I always end up resenting my my wife for having to spend every Christmas with her family. What about my parents?"
"My boss demands too much of me. I'm getting burnt out and important details are falling through the cracks."
If you can relate to any of the sentiments above, I've got a killer tool for you to add to your kit!
A lot of people I work with come in feeling like they don't have the energy to do what they want to do to work towards their goals, dreams or purpose. They experience regular burnout at home and work. Their relationships are weighed down by resentment. They are exhausted and unsatisfied.
Why? They do not set and maintain boundaries.
No judgement from me on this at all! I went most of my life not even knowing what a boundary was. In fact, when others set and upheld them I took it as a personal offense. I felt that it was selfish to take care of myself or that I would have less value (aka be less lovable) if I didn't always say yes to others.
Over the years I've learned just how powerful boundaries are AND how they position me to be at my strongest, which in turn, gives me the necessary fuel to serve others. If this were the 90s, I would inform you that boundaries are the bomb diggity.
So here are the three BIG Do's and Don'ts of boundaries that you can start practicing today:
1. Before you respond, Pause and Consider. When someone asks you to do something, take a moment to breathe before you accept. Then ask yourself these 3 questions. 1. Do I actually want to do this? 2. Does this fit with my current growth objectives? 3. If I said "yes", would it be coming from my heart or a sense of obligation?
If you don't want to do it, it doesn't move you in the direction of your objectives and/or it's coming from a place of obligation - Just Say No.
2. Practice on low risk situations. If you're like I was, boundaries may be a relatively new endeavor for you. That means you're gonna have to practice...and mess up....and correct it....and experiment with it...and work backwards...and so on. That's totally fine! It's just like any other new skill - it takes practice and progress. No shame there. Choose low risk situations to practice setting and upholding boundaries at first. Then continue moving up the scale the more comfortable you get.
3. Recognize that boundaries serve you AND everyone around you. You cannot give what you do not have. If you're running on empty, you are in NO position to be serving or caring for others. In truth, it is irresponsible to do so (even though it is likely coming from the best of intentions).
1. Don't set a boundary you're not ready to keep. It is impossible for rules to be followed that are not CONSISTENT. Take for example my always energetic, always enthusiastic border collie, Indiana. She gets so excited when anyone enters the door and jumps up to greet them. She is the official unofficial welcome committee.
Now, when I get home I do not allow her to jump up and only give her attention when she is calm. This positively reinforces her good behavior and lets her know it's what I expect. Problem is she, is so darn cute that when others come over they give her lots of loves and pets as soon as her paws hit their pant leg. This positively reinforces her bad behavior and makes it impossible for her to understand the rule. Needless to say, if you were to ever enter my home, you're sure to get mud on your pants straight away.
2. Don't expect to be super great at boundaries if they are new to you NOR should you expect those around you to be super psyched that you're putting them up all of a sudden. Let's be real, it is really convenient for others in our life when we always say "yes", pick up their slack and take on more than our share. There is sure to be some discomfort when making the switch. Try to be patient with them and ask them to be patient with you. Let them know what you're doing and why. You can even bring them on board by asking them to role play some situations with you or to remind you of your bigger objective when they see you sliding into old behaviors.
3. DO NOT feel guilty for setting boundaries. They are part of healthy living and an outward representation of self-respect. They also let others know that you value yourself, which sets the example of how you expect to be treated.
Check out THIS VIDEO for more ways to set boundaries, different ways to say "No" which aren't confrontational and some areas you can start practicing in right away!
Good luck out there!
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