In a perfect world, the need for a conversation about boundaries wouldn’t even be necessary. I’m glad this world isn’t so perfect if I am being a bit selfish, because I might be seeing a lot fewer clients.
Helping people to understand boundaries and what healthy looks like is often part of what I do. Not everyone grew up with healthy or safe boundaries modeled for them. A lot of us have had to learn as we grew up and experienced different types of relationships. Sometimes these lessons have been a bit painful.
Whatever your experience, there is always room to grow and improve when it comes to this area of respect and communication.
Boundaries teach other people what you expect and also how you wish to be treated. Understanding your own boundaries can be powerful in improving self-confidence.
HOW TO IMPROVE
As with anything you are looking to improve the first step to take is to identify that there is room for improvement. This might come because you realize you are being taken advantage of at work and taking on more than your coworkers. Maybe friends or family always call you because they know you won’t say no.
Once you have identified that you might benefit from some firmer boundaries, what comes next?
1. Identify What You Will/Won’t Do- Often clients have been tolerating mistreatment for years. If I was to tell them to jump to a more aggressive step, it would be setting them up for failure. Everyone can benefit from taking a look at what they will and won’t do, put up with, etc. What is not ok for you to tolerate anymore. Sometimes this is the hardest step to identify because the behavior has been going on for so long people have a hard time identifying what is/isn’t appropriate. If you are struggling, reach out to an impartial third party that can give you some insights into what might be normal. A coach, therapist, pastor, or a trusted friend are all good resources.
2. Practice Saying No- This is where things begin to get a bit more uncomfortable. If you are someone that has been agreeing to things out of habit for quite some time, don’t be surprised if this takes some practice. Begin with a safe person or a total stranger where there is no risk involved. Think drive thru “no I don’t want a large” type situations. What we are trying to do here is to teach your brain new ways of responding. Work up to saying no when you would normally say yes. Reflect on how it feels. It is ok for the other person to feel a bit disappointed. You do not need to feel responsible for owning that disappointment.
3. Be Assertive – This will come easier for some of you than others. In order for some people to respect your new boundaries all you will need to do is tell them. With other people, you will need to be more assertive. This will look different for every situation but understanding that you have the right to communicate what feels right to you is a good foundation. Stand your ground.
Boundaries are important because they help us to feel safe, confident, and they also let other know what we expect. Learning to communicate what we need and want from others is part of any healthy relationship, business or personal.
If you need help navigating setting and enforcing boundaries, I am happy to be a resource. Click here to schedule your complimentary initial call to discuss how we can work together.