Many people, but especially women, struggle with how to set boundaries. We often feel that doing so is selfish, lazy, or irresponsible when nothing could be farther from the truth.
Today, we're going to explore what we mean when we say "boundaries": why they're important, and how you can successfully set them without feeling guilty.
What Are Boundaries?
Personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves and ourselves within relationships based on our values. Setting boundaries is the practice of openly communicating and asserting these limits and rules. You can and should have boundaries in all types of relationships including with co-workers, friends, family members, and romantic partners.
Here are some examples of boundaries:
Not wanting a friend or family member to talk down to you
Not answering work calls during vacation time
Not wanting a significant other to read your emails
Why Are Boundaries Important?
Sometimes even in the healthiest of relationships, boundaries can get blurry. It's important to identify what your non-negotiable needs are so you can successfully communicate them.
For example, if you are someone who needs a full eight hours of sleep in order to function properly, then you will need to set boundaries that will allow you to achieve that. If you have a friend in town who you know is a night owl, communicate in advance that you won't be able to party the night away with them. Instead, find a time to get together that works for both of your schedules.
Boundaries don't mean that we can never be flexible or compromise. However, when we consistently deviate from limits that we've put in place for our own well-being, we are left feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, and potentially resentful of the people we broke our rules for.
Good relationships are strong enough to handle occasional minor blows to our boundaries. However, over time, if our boundaries are not reinforced, the foundation begins to crumble. When we don't feel safe, we stagnate, taking fewer risks and getting stuck in patterns that don't serve us.
How to Set Your Boundaries
It's helpful to remember that boundaries aren't walls built to keep people out; they're energetic fortresses carefully constructed so that we can have healthy, fulfilling relationships with others. They're an act of self-love, but they also help the people who care about you understand what your needs are so they can treat you accordingly. All healthy relationships have boundaries.
Start by defining the non-negotiables in your life. These are the responsibilities, activities, and values that you aren't willing to compromise on. This could mean spending a certain amount of time with your kids each week, having an hour to yourself in the morning before you start answering texts or emails, or getting home by a certain time.
Once you have your non-negotiables, make a list of the external factors in your life that are challenging these pillars of your life. What is depleting your energy or getting in the way of your productivity? Begin to identify the people or circumstances contributing to this infiltration of your energetic fortress.
These two steps will help you know how to set boundaries in your life. For example, if your boss is repeatedly asking you to do extra work on the weekends and it's cutting into your family time, you know you'll have to have a conversation with them and set more realistic expectations for yourself moving forward. If a friend sends you lengthy text messages late at night when you're trying to cut back on screen time, communicate to them that you won't be able to respond right away.
If you struggle with setting boundaries — or are unsure what your rules and limits should even be — consider scheduling a free breakthrough call with me today. We'll devise a plan to make sure your energetic fortress is strong so you can feel more at ease with yourself and others.