Hey guys, welcome back to the Finding Clarity series! Today is a shorter post but a very hard topic to get right: boundaries!
I’ve thought about this for a while and heard YouTubers talk about it and I thought “hey, I need those” but never knew how to do it. I haven’t become an expert by any means, but I’ll share with you what I’ve discovered so far.
(All of this information is from a lot of research from different sources. I searched “how to set boundaries” on YouTube and Google and also took notes from Brene Brown and one of my favourite YouTubers Lavendaire)
What are boundaries?
“Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. “
Brene, “The limits we set ourselves for what we will and will not tolerate.”
Who needs boundaries in their life?
- People with a Hero Complex
- People who always say yes out of obligation or guilt
- Those who sacrifice themselves to keep the peace
- Peacekeeper personalities
- Those afraid of conflict
- Those who take more responsibility than is theirs
Recognise where you need boundaries
Sometimes we need boundaries but don’t realise it. A good starting point is to answer the following:
I feel most angry when…
I struggle setting boundaries with these people…
I struggle setting boundaries with this PERSON because…
Recognise what is your responsibility and what isn’t. Shed unnecessary burdens and duties that you think you need to bear. This means not holding yourself responsible for the lives, problems, and emotions of others.
Of course, you can and should help and support your loved ones, but as Brene Brown says, “There is no empathy without boundaries.” This means being with them in their pain, holding space for them, listening, caring, but not taking it on as your responsibility to fix it, struggle too, or be their saviour.
The key is to understand what you need and why you need it. Where are you struggling? Who are you struggling with? What do they do that bothers you or causes you problems? Where are you not showing up as your best?
They say that we need to fix our own oxygen mask before fixing someone else’s. A podcast I listened to said that we can’t suffer when someone else is suffering, otherwise, there are two sufferers and no one is any good to anyone else.
Set clear boundaries
When you have some ideas, get clear on what it means and what you need to be better in that area. I won’t go into specifics, but an important boundary for my own health and happiness was to not be the Hero/Therapist for loved ones and friends anymore. I put myself into the role because an old agreement was that good people help other people no matter what. An old value was kind people save others and give advice and try to take their pain away.
I no longer want to believe that. I’m a good person without taking on other people’s problems.
So, what do you need in order to be your best self, look after yourself, attend to your own needs, stop being so available to others, stop giving in to others, stop saying yes all the time, and start serving yourself more with personal permission to do so?
Set the boundary with yourself first, sit with it, let it sink in.
Once you are sure this boundary is important and needed, it’s time to communicate that with others. This is so hard to do! It feels uncomfortable and scary because you’re initially changing the dynamic of your relationship. They may have benefitted from how you were before, and now they won’t be too happy about things changing.
But this is about and for you, not about or for them.
Be straightforward and clear about what the boundaries are and what will happen if they’re disrespected.
“This is what I need and if that doesn’t happen, I will do XYZ.”
Try not to attack, make it personal or get too emotional. State what you need, perhaps a brief reason why, and state what you’ll do if not, and then thank them for their time and respect and trust yourself.
Self-compassion is key to doing this and keeping it up.
You are rewarding the other person for their sulking by giving in to them. They don’t care about you if they can’t respect your boundaries. Will it be hard at first? Yes, for both of you. But it’s important for your health and happiness and anyone who cares about you should want that for you, too.
This means you need to address boundary violations, but again, don’t make it personal or an attack. State what has happened and how you feel or what you will do. Don’t apologise for your needs or give long explanations. As hard as it is, detach yourself from their reaction; respect yourself enough to not give in to them.
They are the ones disrespecting what you have asked for in order to be happy; it’s not your responsibility to cater to their needs instead of your own.
When they kick up a fuss, seek truth within yourself – Is it true? What would it mean if it was?
And it’s so important that you do what you say you’re going to do. Boundaries will break down if you let things slip by or you don’t uphold them. It is your job alone to do so. If they’re violated, do what you said you were going to do.
Get comfortable saying:
“I’m not able to do that.”
“I can’t do that right now.”
“No, thank you.”
“How can we make it so that we are both happy and respect each other’s needs and decisions?”
Learn from experiences
Don’t consistently give your power away. Your story is being shaped by what you say yes to and what you’re saying no to, remember that. Don’t let other people make decisions for you.
Pay attention to, and be careful of the line between “holding space for someone or something” and “unsolicited advice or dismissing feelings” (yours and theirs).
Each boundary you set is a learning curve. You both learn and grow as you go. It’s trial and error; finding what works so you can be happy and healthier.
Random boundary ideas:
- I will not answer the phone if I am busy working, writing, or tending to my own needs.
- I will walk away or state my discomfort if someone is emotionally dumping or off-loading onto me without permission.
- I will not use my phone in bed.
- I will not watch TV after 9pm.
- I will not let someone put me down as a “joke” anymore.
- I will not let people disturb me in my room when I’m busy or in my personal space.
- I will call you back when I can.
- I hear you and I’m here for you but this is not for me to fix.
- I won’t allow myself to be consumed by this.
You are your best self with boundaries. You spend less energy and emotions on things that aren’t serving you, thus leaving more of you to be your best self and attend to the important things (clarity, focus, values all included!)
You are not a bad sister, daughter, partner, brother, uncle, friend, colleague for asking for what you need in a way that respects your relationship with that person and most importantly, your relationship with yourself.
- Say no to what doesn’t serve you
- Stop trying to save or fix or be responsible for other people’s lives and feelings
- Stop trying to create harmony with everyone all the time
- Trust yourself, your needs, your intuition
Brene, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”
So, love yourself, respect your time and energy, finally put your own needs first.
Suddenly, you can see more clearly because you’re not looking through a cluttered, clouded lens of other people’s wants and needs.
Until next time…
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