Hello gorgeous person! So this post is for sure one of the hardest I’ve had to write. While opening up and being vulnerable has it’s challenges, that tends to come pretty naturally to me. Boundaries on the other hand…not so much. It’s literally taken me years to become a mediocre boundary setter but I’m getting better every day. I’ve worked hard on it and definitely learned a lot. I know SOOOOO many women who have issues surrounding boundaries, it would honestly be a shorter list if I wrote about women who don’t have issues setting boundaries (I actually can’t think of any). Anyways, while preparing this post I realized that I had thought about (and spoke a lot with my therapist about) boundaries, but I never had just sat down and got clear on a list of boundaries that suited me. I just flew by the seat of my pants hoping I would know when the time arose, if something was against my values. Well guess what?, that rarely worked for me. When something would come up I often times explained it away, gave people the benefit of the doubt (even when I KNEW they didn’t deserve it), or couldn’t pin point exactly why I didn’t feel right about something. I ended up refreshing myself on some “boundary research” I’d done previously and came up with a way ( and I’m not saying I invented this) to set boundaries I could actually keep.
So here’s the secret, your boundaries are ONLY about you. I was surprised as I started writing this list to learn that I was the only one in control of them. Before I’d always felt a little powerless because I thought- but what if you say you don’t like something and the person doesn’t care? People are going to do things we don’t like in life, but how do we deal with it? By controlling our own actions, not theirs. This actually makes life so much easier because as you know already, we can’t control anyone. It seems so simple now I can’t believe it took me this long to realize what a boundary is. Don’t worry, by the end of this post you should have a greater understanding of how to implement boundaries you can keep.
Here are my TOP FIVE TIPS on boundary setting!
1. First things first. Get clear on your boundaries. You’ll hear me use this tip a lot. Getting clear on what feels right to you and what doesn’t feel right will really help when you hit a grey area. Making a list of things people can and can’t do to you isn’t a boundary, for example “My bff isn’t allowed to be late to any of our movie dates”. Remember we can’t control others. Try something more like – “I respect and value my time”. That way you can decide if your own actions are being true to your values. If you’re ALWAYS waiting around for him/her, are you respecting your own boundaries?
I’m going to write my list of boundaries here so you can get an idea on how to write yours. Remember boundaries change and evolve and everyone has different priorities so your list might be completely different from mine. The trick is that everything you write can only be done by you. Here’s what I came up with so far:
- I will say yes to me
- I will speak up when something doesn’t feel right
- I will value my time and space
- I will make my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health my main priority
- I will choose relationships where I feel loved and cherished
- I will distance myself from toxic people
- I will enjoy life
- I will not apologize for my priorities
- I will take the necessary steps to keep my life in balance
- I will be compassionate with myself and treat myself with kindness
2. State your boundary. STATE.YOUR.BOUNDARY. I say it again because this is often times the most difficult part for a lot of us. This is such an important skill to have. If it’s difficult for you, pactice in front of the mirror (Today I will take time to rest because I’m prioritizing my health), with your dog (Please don’t sit on the couch dog, down!), or a trusted loved one (I love you and please don’t rearrange my kitchen anymore). Sooo many issues could be solved easily if we got comfortable stating our boundaries. We can’t just expect everyone to know what our boundaries are because everyone’s are different. Obviously sometimes people know exactly what they are doing and are trying to see how much they can get away with. Here are a few examples on how you can state your boundary as it relates to a specific situation. Your mother calls you at work to complain about her neighbors fence choice (this might fall under the “I value my time” boundary) or your husband swears during arguments (This boundary might look something like “I treat myself and others with respect”). Say it very clearly such as “Please call me after work instead, thank you!” or “Please do not swear during our disagreements, thank you.” Keep it short and to the point. If the person is perceptive to your communication and later wants to have a conversation about it then you can decide if you want to let them know more in depth about how it’s affecting you.
3. Don’t wait to express your boundary. Sometimes we wait because we assume the other person A. Did it on accident/don’t know any better. B. Should know better. C. Will get the picture eventually. D. We don’t want to make people uncomfortable and hope it won’t happen again. E. Other. The thing is if we wait to express our boundary we end up frustrated or finally explode at someone, even over something small. We were keeping so many things inside that we can become like ticking time bombs. Expressing your boundaries doesn’t always have to be a big, angry conversation. You can always say things with love or at least politely, so if something doesn’t feel right, take action before you get angry.
4. Stop explaining yourself. When you try to explain your reasons for having a boundary it’s like opening up your boundary for negotiation. For example, “Babe I just don’t like swearing because my dad always swore at my mom and it just makes me remember all those times when I was young blah blah blah”. Your husband, “I’m nothing like your father, that was years ago anyway, you really should be over that by now blah blah blah”. Or with your daycare provider “I just prefer for my child not to drink juice because I don’t want her to have too much sugar and then she gets home all hyper blah blah blah” Daycare provider, ” Actually we use sugar free juice most of the time and it’s 3 hours before you pick her up so she shouldn’t be hyper by the time she gets home blah blah blah”. Over explaining your boundaries can seem like you don’t have full confidence in your decision. Remember, keep it short and direct- “Please don’t swear with me, thank you.” “No juice for my daughter please, thanks!” If they ask why at the moment you can keep the explanation short as well, ei: “it feels disrespectful”, “It’s just something we decided on as a family”.
5. Walk away. Literally walk away. If someone is making you uncomfortable and you’ve already stated your boundary, walk away from them physically. This can look like a lot of different things. Your cousin keeps calling you drunk at 3am for no reason at all-don’t answer. Your boss is always yelling at you- start looking for a new job. Your husband insults you at family get togethers- stop attending parties with him or make sure you have your own ride so you can leave on your own terms. The thing about walking away, is you actually have to do it, not threaten to do it. Walking away isn’t easy and at times takes sacrifice. But boundaries are there to protect you and tie in majorly with your self-esteem, continuously crossing them can have serious consequences for your sense of self.
You are not responsible for the feelings of grown adults. Often times we feel scared to express a boundary because we don’t want people to be angry with us, or get hurt feelings. We then try to manipulate the situation to get both our own and what we perceive to be the other person’s needs met. Trying to care for people this way robs them of their right to take action based on the true nature of the situation, and in prolonged and/or severe situations robs people of their chance for growth.
What if someone isn’t doing something I need them to do? Ok so I’ve given some examples of what do if someone is doing something to you. What if they aren’t pulling their weight…like your husband doesn’t help with the kids? Oh yes ladies I HEAR YOU! Here’s what you do: Instead of looking at it as “What is that person not doing for me?”, look at it as “What am I not doing for myself?” Maybe you aren’t taking time to recharge. So if you are always cleaning the house with a baby on your hip and you feel drained, set the baby on your husbands lap while he’s watching the game and say, I’m going out for coffee, be back in a bit, love you! And Take. Your. Time. You get back and he’s asking, “Where’s dinner?” State your boundary, “I’m too tired to cook, why don’t you order us a pizza, and get me a salad too please, I’m trying to eat healthy. thanks!” (Boundary: I prioritize my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health). A person might not step up the way you want them to the first time and they might grumble about it, don’t let it get to you. Setting boundaries can take time and be uncomfortable for everyone, but it’s necessary. Now let’s say you’re starting to realize you really can’t depend on someone, whether that’s a co-worker who’s always calling out, a friend who’s never there for you, or a husband who will NEVER learn to put his socks in the hamper (not speaking from experience or anything lol). First, accept people at face value, this is just who they are. Second get resourceful. Just because they aren’t pulling their weight doesn’t mean you have to pull it for them, so call in the reinforcements. Let your mother in law clean up after her son, tell your boss you need more help on an assignment, and get a new best friend.
Like I said before having boundaries can take sacrifice, make people uncomfortable (even yourself), and take time. But by having them you become happier, more confident, you show your children how to care for themselves, and you allow yourself to grow into a better person. Till next time Queen, xoxo!
P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know if setting boundaries is as tough for you as it was for me!