Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Business and Personal Life
Have you ever met one of those super-pushy persons who is bound and determined to have you do something that you don’t necessarily want to do? Maybe it’s a friend at work who keeps insisting that you introduce him to an attractive friend of yours… even though you’ve told him he’s not her type…
Or maybe it’s your mother-in-law who keeps insisting that your kids are going to be messed up because you’re homeschooling them and they won’t be properly “socialized” (whatever that means)…
Or it may be your boss, who emails you at all hours and expects you to jump whenever he gets in touch so you can put out whatever the latest fire is at the office…
Maybe it’s a client who wants you to write a 10 page proposal…by tomorrow…
It doesn’t really matter WHO it is, does it? All of these people I’ve mentioned above have the same issue – they’re not respecting proper boundaries.
Now when I say proper boundaries, I’m not talking about a hard and fast rule that applies to everything and everyone. Your boundaries are probably going to be very different from mine, and that is as it should be. Frankly, when I was younger, I had very few boundaries. As I grew up I realized that trying to do everything everyone wanted of me was useless and would make me crazy. I developed my “no” muscle. And sometimes I even have to remind myself that though something I want to do may SEEM like a great idea, saying yes to it may be the worst thing I could do at that moment in time.
So what does this have to do with you? Well, no one can do it all, all the time. There are tradeoffs to be made in every situation, and if you don’t want to go crazy, you will at some point have to say no to something.
In other words, you’re going to have to set some boundaries. Boundaries are being clear about what your limits are, and they’re necessary to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed by the demands of other people. Without boundaries, you are likely to be overburdened, stressed, and resentful, and it’s up to you to know, set and maintain your limits. You are the only one responsible for your happiness and wellbeing. No one else can do it for you.
If you find it hard to say no, and it’s affecting your wellbeing, you need to stop and recalibrate. Here are some key elements for creating healthy boundaries:
1. Know your limits
Knowing yourself is the key to creating and maintaining good boundaries. Know your emotional, mental, and physical limits. Work out what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed and what feels good.
2. Learn how to read your feelings
In assessing where your limits are, you will have felt a range of different emotions. Two key emotions that signal that your boundaries are being crossed are resentment and discomfort. If you feel you’re being taken advantage of, not appreciated, or even being exploited, that’s a sign you’re being pushed beyond your boundaries, and it’s time to reassert those boundaries and say no.
3. Give yourself permission to enforce your boundaries
It’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s necessary for your self-respect to maintain your boundaries and refuse an unwelcome request. There is no room for guilt or self-doubt in this. Having clear boundaries and sticking to them is not selfish. In putting yourself first, you’re ensuring that you will have the energy to do the things you want to do and be there for people when it is right for you.
4. Be clear about what’s up for negotiation
Know what you need to stay happy and healthy, whether it’s your daily walk, a gym session, or yoga practice. Make it clear that these are non-negotiable parts of your daily schedule. Similarly, if hosting get-togethers is too much for you, be clear that you won’t host family parties, but you will contribute with food or drinks. Being clear and direct about your boundaries leaves no room for doubt, guilt, or leverage.
5. Be direct
When you’re clear about your boundaries, you don’t need an excuse, a back story, or a note from your mother. Be direct and leave it at that. You can be polite and kind about it, but in the end, it’s okay just to say no and keep your boundaries strong.
Over to you… how have you handled boundaries in the past? Do you have strong boundaries, or are you still working on them? If you have strong boundaries, what was your process like in setting them up? I’d love to hear. Leave me a comment (below the bio – wait for the three little dots to appear). I read and reply to them all.