How To Set Boundaries The Correct Way
Envision this – resentment free relationships, no longer engaging in gossip, clear and honest communication with others and with yourself, managing your relationship with technology, feeling peaceful and in control.
Sounds great right? It’s possible when you learn how to set proper boundaries in your life.
This week I’m going to share the secrets to setting boundaries (hint: just saying “no” is not setting a boundary), what a boundary is and is not and share an example from my life.
Why You May Want To Set a Boundary
As a female accountant and a mom you may have difficulty setting limits and have unhealthy patterns in friendships, at work, in your schedule, with technology or even with your family. It doesn’t matter if it’s with a boss, co-worker, your children, your calendar or your smart phone, setting boundaries the correct way sets the stage for a more peaceful, resentment- free and drama- free life.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you “normalized” certain situations or behaviors because it’s just always been done that way?
- Are you drained by not communicating your needs?
- Are you afraid to speak up or “rock the boat”?
- Are you resentful of someone or something in your life?
What a Boundary is NOT and What it IS
A boundary is NOT:
- Just saying no
- Expecting the other person to change their behavior
- Threatening someone with consequences so that they will change
- Standing up for yourself out of anger or frustration
- Intended to manipulate anyone’s behavior
- An idle threat that you do not intend to follow through with
A boundary IS:
- A powerful form of self-care
- Something you do for you, not to them
- Something you create for yourself to honor yourself
- A request of someone else with a very clear consequence (something you will do; not something they need to do)
- Said from a place of calm
- Set with the intention that you are ready, willing and able to follow through with what you said you would do
- You only set a boundary when there is a boundary violation
- Requires you to not care what other people think of you
- A way to have healthy relationships
When you have clear boundaries you are very clear about what you will stand for in your life and what you are willing to have in your life. Once you have really clear boundaries, you can tell other people when they have violated a boundary. You set a boundary by calmly letting the other person know that a certain behavior doesn’t work for you and what you will do if it happens again. They don’t have to change a thing; they can behave any way they choose. You are letting them know what works for you and only you.
An Example From My Life
I have a family member who sends racist and inappropriate group emails that are offensive to me. This person had no idea that I didn’t appreciate the emails and that I was initially angry that they were sending them. After working with the Manage Your Mind Model, I calmly replied to one of their emails and told them that I did not want to receive any more emails like this one and to please remove me from the group receiving them. I explained that if I wasn’t removed, I would need to block their emails from now on. Notice that I didn’t tell them they needed to change or to stop sending the emails; I just asked that they stopped sending them to me and if they didn’t, I would be taking action to protect myself.
I truly didn’t care what they thought of my boundary; I only cared that I wasn’t going to be a part of something I didn’t want to be a part of. Like putting a fence around your property, no one is violating your boundary until they enter your space without permission. Once my space was violated, I let this person know what my boundary was and what I would do if they violated it again.
Check Your Feelings Before You Act
It is really important to not set a boundary out of anger or frustration. Remember, based on the Manage Your Mind Model, your feelings are created by your thoughts, not the circumstance. “My family member sent an email” was the neutral circumstance; my initial thoughts about the email created my initial feeling of anger.
If I had set my boundary from a place of anger it would have led to a negative reaction and probably a negative result. Coming from a place of clear and calm, I took action that communicated my boundary from a loving place (love for the other person and for myself) rather than a judgmental, angry place.
I suggest you first do some thought work and then set a boundary (for help with the model sign-up here for the free “5 Simple Steps to Reduce Overwhelm Today”).
- The only time to set a boundary is when there has been a violation
- You are not trying to change anyone’s behavior
- You are doing this for you and not to them
- A boundary should not be set out of anger, frustration or any other negative emotion
- The most important piece is to follow through with what you said you would do.
If you are willing to set healthy boundaries in all areas of your life, you will see an amazing shift. Your relationships with others will be more authentic but more importantly the relationship with yourself will be more intimate. You will understand yourself better and honor yourself in a loving and peaceful way.