Are you too accommodating?
Do you feel uncomfortable saying no?
If you have a hard time creating boundaries and find yourself drained from uncomfortable situations, I’m here to tell you that…YOU DESERVE MORE! Especially at this time of the year, demands professionally and personally, may seem endless, so I encourage you to take a pause and remind yourself how important you are and why it’s so important to set boundaries.
Whether it’s a romantic, family or business relationship, boundaries are invisible, but highly necessary barriers, rules or limits that keep us safe – physically, emotionally and spiritually. People with well-established boundaries typically enjoy relationships that are respectful, healthy and positive, full of communication and clarity. Without them, others’ behavior toward us has no limits.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others,” says Brene Brown, Happily Imperfect (Psych Central).
WHY DO WE NEED THEM?
Establishing and keeping boundaries in our lives, both personally and professionally, set the stage for whatever behavior we’re willing to accept. Your boundaries are your values and are reflective of how much (or little!) you respect yourself.
The reality is this…NO boundaries = little/NO self-esteem or self-respect.
“If you are allowing someone to use you, manipulate you, and treat you poorly, then you must ask yourself what the relationship is reflecting in your relationship with yourself,” says therapist and best-selling author, Katherine Woodward Thomas in the book, Calling in ‘The One.’
- Without clearly defined boundaries you could find yourself…
- Being taken advantage of
- Justifying bad behavior
- Continuously disrespected
- In a repeat pattern of toxic relationships
- Not able to communicate your wants and needs
“If you are operating under the illusion that you can continue to hold onto people who you know are not good for you, and still create an extraordinary life filled with love and fulfillment, then you are fooling yourself. Toxic ties cost us and they cost us big time. If you are feeling stuck in your life, look to see who or what it is that you are stuck to,” continues Thomas.
Quite simply, boundaries are necessary for you and any positive relationship you want in your life.
HOW WE CAN TELL IF YOUR BOUNDARIES HAVE BEEN CROSSED/VIOLATED?
When a physical boundary has been broken, it’s easy to tell, but emotional and mental boundaries are a bit trickier. Ask yourself the following…
Do you have a hard time saying no?
Do people have little or no regard for your wishes?
Do you walk away from personal or professional exchanges feeling uncomfortable?
Do people assume or expect things from you?
Do you justify someone’s bad behavior?
Do you blame yourself if something goes wrong?
Do you doubt your decisions?
Do you feel shame?
If you say yes to one or more of the above questions, it’s possible that you have difficulty establishing boundaries, but fear not…please know that it’s NEVER too late to take action toward creating healthy boundaries.
SETTING & KEEPING BOUNDARIES IN YOUR LIFE
Here are 5 tips to establish and maintain better boundaries now.
- Decide your core values and know your limits.
What’s most important to you? What do you value? What has made you uncomfortable, angry or resentful in the past? Draw on these experiences to understand your threshold and clearly define behavior that is acceptable. Staying true to beliefs and actions that are non-negotiables is crucial when creating boundaries.
- Be direct and clear in your communication.
Look at the people in your life and how easily they can pick up on cues. For some, especially those with a similar communication style, you might not need to have a direct dialogue. Others with different personalities or backgrounds may require a more direct approach. Always remember that not relaying to someone that they may have crossed a line may only lead to confusion and resentment on their part. The key is to be extremely comfortable with your feelings so that clarity with your communication follows suit.
- Give yourself permission.
Don’t be afraid or intimidated to speak up! Psychologist, Dana Gionta, Ph.D. says, “Fear, guilt, and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls. Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect, so give yourself permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.” It’s normal to be nervous about how others may perceive you, but affirming your boundaries means that you value yourself, your needs, and your feelings more than the thoughts and opinions of others.
- Make self-care a priority.
Gionta encourages people to give themselves permission to put themselves first. Self-care, particularly when it comes to setting boundaries, means recognizing and honoring the importance of our feelings. She says, “When we do this, our need and motivation to set boundaries to become stronger. Putting yourself first also gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them.”
- Consistency is key.
If we expect those around us to respect the boundaries we’ve created, then it’s imperative that we stick to them consistently. Setting boundaries are like creating positive habits, things people will subscribe to if we follow ourselves follow through. If you continually give in or let things slide, then the boundaries we’ve worked hard to establish will be useless. Exceptions obviously do exist, however, like most things in life, the best way to get something done right is to be consistent.
YOUR CHECKLIST FOR MANAGING BOUNDARY VIOLATION
- Communicate how you feel, citing specific examples and starting the sentence with I instead of You.
- If in-person, take a step back from the conversation, literally.
- Pour your energy into those who actively respect your boundaries and de-prioritize spending energy on those who don’t.
- Reassess the situation over time – has the person doing the violating positively changed their behavior towards you to fulfill your request?
- When applicable, stay calm and focus on responding, not reacting.
- Call on the proper authorities, especially if you’re feeling threatened in any way.
What you believe, you will receive!
If you want help understanding your situation and how to establish boundaries at work or in life, contact me, Executive Coach and Certified Calling in the One Coach. I implore you to be confident, stand your ground and get the respect and peace you desire and deserve!
BONUS: PERSONAL REFLECTION / EXERCISE
Answer the following questions, thinking of any relationships you’ve had – professional, family, romantic, etc.
- What relationship(s) if any do I suspect may qualify as a “toxic tie”?
- What fear(s) are dominating me in this relationship?
- In what ways am I allowing myself to be manipulated through feelings of guilt and shame?
- What does this relationship reflect in my relationship to myself?
- What can I give up in order to restore my own sense of personal power?
- What boundaries could I set that would increase health and wellness in this relationship?
Calling in the One – Katherine Woodward Thomas – Harmony Books, 2004.