WARRIORS, today we’re talking about a tool that has brought me supreme freedom and peace in my life: boundaries! Wait! Before you zone out or stop reading, I encourage you to reframe how you think of boundaries. They are not negative, punitive, or something we do to other people. Boundaries are actually a way we take care of and protect ourselves in relationships. Setting boundaries in my important relationships has allowed me to have more fulfilling relationships than ever before.
This time of year we have a lot of interaction with family and close friends. We hold a lot of unspoken rules on what others should do or how other should act. A lot of this drama can be ameliorated when we look at the manuals we have for these people. If you missed that post, please listen or read that first because knowing the unspoken rules we have for other people is the first step. We need a clear understanding of our manuals so that we can we can set boundaries in a calm and graceful way in our important relationships.
Why Set Boundaries?
How we feel in our relationships is a fundamental piece of our mental and physical health. Remember those 5 Pillars of Wellness? Relationships are one of the main pillars. The people around us affect our health, our wealth, our mindset, and everything in between. I’ve studied and written a lot about boundaries as I spent the first 30 plus years of my life in relationships without boundaries and it took a toll on me and my children. No, I wasn’t into self-sabotage. I didn’t set boundaries for two main reasons: (1) I didn’t understand that I can’t make someone else feel a certain way by what I did, said, or how I acted, and (2) I had the underlying belief that my needs didn’t matter. I believed that the things I wanted or desired had to take a back burner to the needs and desires of others around me. I’ve now set boundaries with the most fundamental relationships in my life, my parents, my siblings, my ex, etc…and feel free and resentment-free. If there’s a problem in a relationship, I’m very clear that it’s my responsibility to do something about it. [tweetshareinline tweet=”If I’m frustrated or aggravated in a relationship, a boundary is needed. ” username=”SusieBarolo”]
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are a clear request with a specific follow up. They are not done to punish the other person. They are not done to restrict the other person. They are done for you. They come from love not from fear or anger. They are not done to control the other person. They are done to protect you and your relationship with that person. A boundary sounds like: “Please stop yelling at me. If you continue to yell, I will hang up the phone”. The request is: “Please stop yelling at me” and the follow up or consequence is “I will hang up the phone”. There’s no drama. It’s not a punishment. It’s the healthiest thing you can do for your relationship. Rethinking Boundaries Click To Tweet
When are boundaries used?
The only time you need to use a boundary or talk about a boundary is when there’s been a clear boundary violation. For example, I have the boundary that I won’t be hit. I don’t tell everyone I meet of my boundary but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to hit me. Now, if someone hits me, then I’d tell him of my boundary by saying something like: I do not allow people to hit me. If you hit me again, I will leave this relationship. Another example, I do not allow uninvited strangers into my house. If I were to come home and there was someone in my house, I would call the police. I do not need to have a sign in my yard saying “strangers are not allowed” or to tell this person in advance that I would call the police if s/he entered my house.
How to set boundaries?
The most important piece of boundary setting is doing your own emotional work so that your boundaries are set with grace and kindness. If you aren’t aware of the manuals and expectations you carry for the other person in the relationship, you will be setting the boundary from a place of annoyance or resistance. These kinds of boundaries don’t work. How do I know? I’ve tried it! In the past, I had set boundaries from a place of anger with the intent to control the other person. These types of boundaries don’t work and are rooted in something called codependency. You must do the emotional work to own your piece of whatever is going on so that you can set your boundary from a place of peace and calm. I have found that doing a lot of journaling before having the boundary conversation is hugely helpful for me. I get crystal clear on my thoughts about the relationship, on what I’m requesting and on what my follow up will be. I remind myself that the person I’m making the boundary request of can continue to do whatever they would like to do. [tweetshare tweet=”Reminder: Boundaries are not created to control other people, they are to protect you and your relationship.” username=”SusieBarolo”]
3 Steps to Creating Healthy Boundaries:
1) Specific, Clear and Distinct. The more specific and clear you are the better. Get really clear on what’s okay and whats not okay. Before the conversation write down: what’s the boundary’s clear request and what is your specific follow up? Here are some examples of boundaries clients have set:
If you yell at me, I will leave the room.
If you criticize me, I will hang up the phone.
If you give my kids candy when they’re at your house, I will no longer leave them at your house.
If you raise your voice towards me, I will leave the dinner table.
2) Deliver the boundary with grace and kindness. In order to deliver the boundary with grace and kindness, it’s helpful for me to think of how I want to feel after my boundary conversation. I know I don’t want to feel combative or defensive. I know I do want to feel calm and confident. I do want to speak my truth in a kind and compassionate manner. I remind myself that I’m not responsible for their response. I get to make the request, state my clear consequence and allow them to do what they would like to do.
3) Follow Through: This is the tricky part. Most of us want to have clear boundaries but don’t want to follow through. Yet dear warriors, the follow through is the most important part of the boundary. Without the follow through, the boundary won’t be taken seriously and things will continue as they have for years. What does this mean for us? Resentment and anger build up when we’re the ones not doing what we said we’d do. We need to take full responsibility instead of blaming and resenting other people. Not only does this create unnecessary conflict it renders us powerless over our emotions.
Choose Courage Over Fear
It’s normal to be nervous about setting boundaries. You’re probably in the habit of letting other people’s needs take priority over your own or your family’s. A boundary is standing up for yourself and that can be scary. But what’s the alternative? The alternative is to do what so many people do – live with mediocre relationships and telling ourselves “they won’t change”. Guess what? They won’t change if we don’t ask for change. So what do most people do? We stay in these relationships, pretending everything is okay and allow resentment and annoyance to brew under the surface. Instead of saying something, we all just sit around smiling at each other. Instead of temporary discomfort, we complain about not having close, connected relationships. When with those people we pretend everything is great, not telling each other the truth or having the conversations that matter. I urge you to feel the fear and do it anyways. Choose courage. Have the conversation. Be brave. Choose discomfort over resentment.
“You are choosing suffering when you choose not to give voice to something.” Amy Smith
Yes setting boundaries can be some of the most difficult work you do but don’t let your brain talk you out of it. You’re not creating suffering or discomfort by setting the boundary. Rather, you create suffering and drama when you avoid setting the boundary. Boundaries bring peace and foster closer relationships.
“We have to love ourselves enough, we have to honor ourselves enough to tell the people in our life the truth; to set proper boundaries not just for the sake of ourselves and our own honor, but also for the sake of the person that is doing the boundary violating.” Henry Cloud
Boundaries are freeing and one of the most important tools in adult relationships. There is freedom in letting go of trying to control another person. It’s exhausting to try and it’s exhausting to be in relationships when you’re not speaking your truth. One person can change a relationship and, if you’re the unhappy one, it’s up to you. [tweetshareinline tweet=”You’re responsible for your happiness. ” username=”SusieBarolo”] If you’re frustrated or resentful it is because you don’t have proper boundaries and you haven’t been speaking the truth. When you begin setting boundaries and taking responsibility for your emotional state within relationships, your relationships improve.
It amazed me how little my happiness has to do with the actions of the other person. In fact, I’ve never been happier in my relationship with my biological parents even though they didn’t adhere to the follow through of my boundary. Since I set the boundary with grace and kindness, their actions had little to do with how I feel about our relationship. They did not follow through with my boundary request and I followed through with my consequence. We are no longer in contact but I have never felt more love towards them and our situation. Was it hard? Yes. Was it 100% worth it? Absolutely. I am free to be me and they are free to be them.
So warriors, during this pre-holiday season, I encourage you to find some quiet space to reflect on the relationships you have and how you feel about them. Are you looking forward to seeing them? How do you usually feel after spending time with them? Remember, when there are people in your life who irritate you or cause frustration, a boundary is needed. As a holiday gift to you and your family, choose courage over fear. Choose to make the request, give them the option to do whatever they would like to do, and then you follow through on that request.
Please share this episode with one other person who may resonate with this message. If everyone who read this did that, we’d double the reach of this message! The more people who go around setting calm and kind boundaries, the more connected we all will feel. Follow me on Instagram for daily inspiration and sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a single week of fun and freebies.