Google says: Personal Boundaries are important because they set the basic guidelines of how you want to be treated. These guidelines are created to establish how others are able to behave around them. For example, they may involve what behavior is okay and what is not and how to respond if someone passes those limits.
According to Psychology Today, boundaries are the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical limits to how others can treat you, behave around you, as well as what they can expect from you. Boundaries allow you to define, create, and maintain the space you need to show up as your highest and best self.
Here’s what I say about boundaries: Setting boundaries is another form of self-love. Allowing others to call the shots is disrespectful to yourself. It can also lead to sacrificing time you need to spend alone to recharge, or with loved ones. So how do you do this? You know it’s important but where do you start? Step one, let the word “No” just roll off your tongue. Ok, so maybe a little more nuanced than just saying “NO” and then hiding under your desk refusing to say more. It’s all about communication. Assertive communication is the sweet spot where you’re not being passive (disrespecting yourself and your needs), not being aggressive (which disrespects those you speak to and their needs), and not being passive-aggressive (which disrespects everyone’s needs).
So let’s unpack the way we communicate assertively. First, ask yourself to what extent are your boundaries helping or hindering the satisfaction of your needs. Tell the person what you think about their behavior without accusing them. Using an “I” statement, or the “when you I” statement can be helpful in these moments. It takes the accusation out of the statement, and simply shares how you are feeling. For example: “When you ask me to do more than my share of the work, I feel taken advantage of (or I feel frustrated).” Or “When I say no to you, I feel like I’m letting you down.” By using these kinds of statement you are expressing how you feel about their behavior, telling them how their behavior affects you, and inviting an open conversation that can lead to collaborating on a preferred method of behavior, or your new way forward.
Signs that you’re not setting boundaries include:
· Ignoring your own needs
· Projecting that other people are busier than you, so it’s fine if you take on more
· Accepting that people can call you anytime
· You’re working beyond work hours
· Putting other people’s needs before your own
· Accepting work when you’ve already got a lot on your plate
· Tolerating calls and meetings during family time
· Not knowing when to stop working
· Not knowing when to say NO
· Avoiding standing up to yourself when you’re being too accessible to others
· Worrying what others think if you’re taking a much-needed break
It can be challenging to set boundaries, especially if you run categorically close to the traits of an “empath.” Empaths have that habit of thinking for others and projecting, and always being willing to take one for the team, because they understand how busy others are. Think about how great it would feel to say no to something that you really don’t like doing. I’m not talking about saying no to doing gross things that must be done (changing your kid’s diaper, scooping the litter box, or getting a colonoscopy), rather saying no to things that aren’t your responsibility, that someone else can do, and to recognize that saying no will not cause catastrophic damage. Build the habit. Try it once, and see how it goes. Practice your language with trusted friends or family, or a coach. Learn from it, and keep doing it. Eventually it will feel less emotional, and will feel like your new normal. Practice the art of detachment. This doesn’t eliminate the empathic tendencies; it just encourages self-preservation.