This was one of my lessons learned in 2020 and thought I would go a little deeper into this idea today.
This statement might sound counterintuitive. Boundaries can sound restrictive and restrictive seems to be opposite to free, but let me explain. If we want to live our best lives and be free we can't afford our lives to be driven by other people's expectations.
We are always setting healthy or unhealthy boundaries whether we realize it our not.
When we say yes to everything because we want to avoid disappointing others.
When we say no to everything for fear to being seen or judged.
When we try to control other people. We want to feel in control, needed and not alone.
By setting healthy boundaries we gain control and can improve the quality of our lives.
But what is a boundary? just so we are on the same page. A boundary is a line on the sand where you control the consequences.
Sometimes when you say yes to someone, you end up saying no to yourself. Setting boundaries can help build confidence and self-esteem.
So, how to go about setting boundaries?
Identify boundaries. You can't change what you don't label.
Honor your boundary. Be willing to say no.
Mentally scan your environment. Some compromise will be sometimes required, but if the norm is that your boundaries are not respected, you might be in the wrong environment.
Personally, I believe that we need to set boundaries with others but also with ourselves, and I don't believe any of us are setting enough boundaries in our lives. Either we are scared, we are not confident enough or have no idea what our boundaries should be.
A few areas that deserve to set boundaries:
1. Relationships: Here’s the thing, the entire world can’t and shouldn’t have full access to you, so think about who does. Decide what relationships play the biggest role in your life and who gets what access to your schedule, your time, and your heart.
2. How you deserve to be treated by others. If you put everyone else priorities first, they will believe your priorities are less important than theirs. People can't read your mind, speak up.
3. Your time and your energy. you time and energy as valuable as anyone else. where do you feel you are wasting your time and energy? remember these are limited resources, so you need to smart about how, where and when you are using your time and energy. If you are constantly saying yes to things, remember that every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else. If saying yes to everything is impacting you mood, you probably need to rethink how and where you are saying yes to and be more selective. Your time and energy is worth protecting so you can be and show up as your best self.
4. Your priorities. You can't show up as your best self if you are not doing what you need to do to become your best self. What are your non-negotiables (personally, family, relationships, team, etc.)?
As you make decisions and say yes to something, ask yourself if this is is this critical to the priorities that you have set?
What are some of your non-negotiable rules based on your priorities? The answer to these questions will be different for each of us.
5. Your personal space: We all have different limits on our personal space. Whether it be how close we want someone to get or even just how much alone time we need to process our life. In order to come up with boundaries in this area, you really need to know yourself. Watch and see what you’re comfortable with and where you get most of your energy. Think about boundaries you could set about how much alone time you get each day and how physically close you allow people to get.
6. Technology and social media: When was the last time you did a social media audit? Identify what accounts you are currently following that suck your energy, that make you feel less, not good enough or suck you into the comparison trap; and unfollow all those accounts.
Boundaries and Rules will make your life easier. Just because you could doesn't mean you should. Let me share an example of boundaries I've set for myself over the last year while forced to work from home due to the pandemic. I quickly learned that if I wanted to have a chance to make it work, to be productive at work but safeguard my mental health and maintain a healthy work-life balance, I needed to establish clear boundaries for and with myself, with my family and my team.
Create a dedicated workspace
Set a schedule
Schedule a lunch break
Turn work off on weekends
Hydrate: always have a water bottle next to me
Fake a commute (block time on calendar) an use that time to invest on my personal development
Establish and stick to a morning routine
Schedule personal projects on Fridays at 4pm
Schedule family dinners and turn work off after dinner
Why do boundaries not work?
1. You don't enforce your own boundaries.
We threaten others with consequences, but we don't follow up. How many times do you say no but end up giving in? Here is the thing, when you don't enforce boundaries, you train others to cross them.
2. The need to please.
The truth is that someone is going to be upset. This will always be true whether you enforce your boundaries or not. We don't enforce our boundaries or relax on them because we are afraid, we would upset others. The truth is that when you don't enforce our boundaries we are the ones that end up being upset. Yes, people will be upset when you enforce boundaries, but think about it this why, the reason why you need to set boundaries on the first place is because is because others are not respecting your rules. You are making others uncomfortable with you enforce boundaries.
We set boundaries while we are angry because someone has crossed a line, not honored our "rules". Don't set boundaries while being angry. When we get angry it's easy to over react and make the other person also get defensive. Calm down first, and then follow 3 steps:
Be clear about the boundary
Be clear about the consequence
Stick to your own boundaries
Remember boundaries are not always popular, typically are the opposite. The great thing is life is not a popularity content. Will this boundary make you happier? if the answer is yes, is totally worth it.