While boundaries take on all different shapes and sizes, we are the only ones who can define them for ourselves.
With Christmas just around the corner, I thought boundaries might be a topic worth covering. While boundaries are required all year round, I wonder if holidays and events can highlight our need for boundaries all the more. The Cambridge dictionary defines a boundary as a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something. While boundaries are required to show what we are willing to tolerate, boundaries can look different for each individual and circumstance. Boundaries usually align with our values, family of origin or experiences. The lack of boundaries can leave us feeling like doormats while having boundaries that let no one in can leave us feeling isolated. So, what is the sweet spot?
While boundaries take on all different shapes and sizes, we are the only ones who can define them for ourselves. You can start to define boundaries by listening to that hunch or that gut feeling you get when something doesn't feel quite right. Take the time to process what is happening to you. We can tend to ignore these feelings or downplay them. The more we ignore the hunch, the less in tune we become with ourselves and our self-awareness. By keeping check of ourselves, we may be able to minimise situations down the track because we tuned in and took the appropriate steps. If you feel stuck in this area, you might consider counselling to assist with gaining self-awareness.
Setting boundaries invites change and everything that comes with it. Get ready for some discomfort and adjustment when it comes to a new way of being in your relationships.
Questions that you could ask yourself are:
What happens if I don't change?
Can I continue functioning the same way in this relationship?
What is stopping me from changing?
Saying yes or saying no isn't necessarily the issue. Perhaps it's not choosing the yes or the no. This is when we just go into autopilot and lose our ability to respond and find ourselves reacting. Moral of the story change is bound to happen one way or the other, it's not always comfortable, sometimes it's necessary, and not everyone will like it.
Articulating our boundaries is an essential step of the process. If we don't communicate our boundaries, others may not know where we stand. In a previous episode, we looked at ways to communicate, you can learn more about communication by clicking here. Whenever we give anything new ago a good reminder that it takes practice, grace is needed when we don't quite get it right and learn as we go.
Some practical steps you might like to try when it comes to boundaries are:
• Set time frames for less pleasant events. Decide what you are willing to commit yourself to and have an exit strategy
• Make a pros and cons list around setting specific boundaries and the consequences for both sides
• Take the time to define your values, your negotiables and non-negotiables
• Reinforce the boundaries that you have set and remind yourself of why you put them there in the first place
On a finishing note, boundaries can look different for each of us and considering the various spheres of our lives. As my gift to you, I have made available a worksheet so you can define what boundaries look like for you and you can gain access to this resource by clicking here.
The worksheet looks at three spheres: associates, friends and inner circle. Fill in the blank spaces by asking yourself what qualities you require and need to let someone close? For example, would you allow an associate to become a friend if they lack a certain quality? What characteristics does a friend or family member need to have that will enable them to be a part of your inner circle? I wish you all the best as you define your boundaries and until next week take care.