The hardest but most rewarding thing that you could ever do for yourself is setting boundaries.
Yes, it sounds easy. But I bet there is somewhere in your life that you lack boundaries. It might be in your professional life; it may be in your personal life.
Heck, it could even be both! But you and I both know that you would be way better off if you had some boundaries. Clear boundaries.
Yes, I know it’s hard. Every time you think about setting boundaries, you think about how you might hurt the person on the receiving end.
What’s the harm with letting things go, every now and then? Maybe they’ll get the picture eventually.
What! No, they won’t! You are hurting yourself big time! And you are creating misunderstandings.
Your clients think it’s okay to call you at 4 AM because you let it happen. So, they do it often. They know you’ll answer.
But, it’s cutting into your sleep and it’s hurting your health. Did you know that sleep deprivation can make you crazy? Take care of yourself. Setting boundaries is part of self-care. It’s good for you.
Don’t worry, I’m not just talking to you. I’m talking to me too. You see, I have a problem with setting boundaries.
I just feel so guilty. It’s hard. You say yes and you get stuck doing a lot of things you don’t want.
But you can also get new opportunities because more people are open to you if you say yes. Say no all the time and you stop getting as many opportunities.
Where is the happy medium? You know the one where you try new things and get new opportunities but you still say no every now and then? You can never win. Or can you? First, let’s define setting boundaries.
What does “setting boundaries” mean?
A boundary, in the literal sense, is a border creating a separation between something. For us, boundaries mean creating a separation that will save our mental sanity and well-being. This is what helps you create healthy relationships and attract positive relationships.
No boundaries mean you’re open to negative people, energy vampires, and other insane people ready to take advantage of your lack of boundaries. Setting boundaries means you are creating a way to protect yourself.
You are creating the guidelines for people to have a relationship with you that is safe and healthy for you. This is a reminder for both you and others of your preferences and how you wish to be treated.
The whole purpose of the boundary is to make sure you maintain your identity. You ever been so overwhelmed with everything at work that you lost yourself?
Work just seeped into every aspect of your life. You didn’t have time to be you. You just felt like work you all the time and you couldn’t unwind. You couldn’t be the you that you wanted to be. That’s what can happen without boundaries.
What does “setting boundaries” look like?
Setting boundaries looks different in everybody. It depends on you and who you’re setting the boundaries with. For those clients that you have, it may mean telling them that you will only answer calls and emails between the hours of 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday.
For friends, that may mean letting them know that you can’t hang out all the time. You are an introvert and need time to recharge. Otherwise, they may end up with someone that looks like you but isn’t quite so friendly or receptive when it comes time to hang out.
Setting boundaries and saying no
Saying no can be hard. Especially, if you are a people-pleaser. Don’t be offended. Some people are just people-pleasers.
It’s not a bad thing. You love making people happy. The trouble comes when you start to make others happy at the expense of yourself.
If saying yes, all the time, is draining you, you have to say no. Refresh yourself and come back. Create guidelines for yourself on when to say no.
Find the signs and symptoms of you being burned out by your people-pleaser ailment.
If you start to get angry when people say no to you, after all, you did for them and put aside. It may be time for you to take a moment and think.
- You could have said no.
- They did not owe you.
Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow but sometimes you have to swallow it and realize that it is time to set your boundaries and live your life. This mindset is becoming harmful to you and others.
You have already started to resent your friend for telling you no after all you did for them! Did they ask you to drop your self-care day to hang out?
No. You could have said no. Setting boundaries will allow you to avoid the ugly side of relationships as much as possible.
Setting boundaries does not make you mean.
Realize that setting boundaries do not make you a mean person. Language is a huge thing. It is all about the way you word things.
If you start by saying, “You all are too social. I can’t be around you all every day.”
Of course, you’re going to sound mean. You are making accusatory, prosecuting statements. You are putting all the blame on someone else.
However, if you say, “I need alone time. That is part of my self-care.”
The statement sounds nicer because the statement is all about you. There was no blame. It was about your needs. No one did anything to you to make you need alone time. You just needed it.
You are also not lying because, at the end of the day, setting boundaries is for you. It’s for your mental sanity and it’s part of your self-care.
How to Set Boundaries
Sit down and contemplate the following questions before setting boundaries. It helps to write the answers down. Apply these questions to your relationships, jobs, personal life, etc.
- What do you want?
- What’s something that you never want to experience again in a relationship?
- Why won’t you tolerate it and how will you prevent this from happening?
- What are your limits?
- What boundaries are you willing to set today? Do it now.
- Why are you worried about setting this boundary? How can you lessen the weight of this worry?
- What is the best thing that can happen by setting this boundary?
- What is the worst thing that can happen?
- Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Now, create your boundaries from these answers. Be direct and assertive with your boundaries. You matter. Your mental health matters. Setting boundaries is a part of that.
You Are Ready
It may be awkward at first but practice makes perfect. I promise you. You are the only person making this awkward. Now go and prosper!
Start setting boundaries! It does not mean that you are putting a wall up between you and your relationships. You are cultivating healthy relationships.
You are allowing yourself not to lose track of your identity in the mix of all the things that are going on in your life. You are letting others approach you in the way you would like to be approached.
Setting boundaries allows you to be the “work you” during work and leave that identity at work if you choose. It allows you to re-charge without feeling guilty about what others will think. So, that’s why you should set boundaries.
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