Boundaries! The thing we all need, but we seem to have difficulty defining let alone establishing.
What are Boundaries?
Boundaries are the barriers we create to filter who has access to our lives and at what level.
Boundaries are necessary for all relationships and basic human interaction. Whether it is with our family, friends, co-workers, or the random person in the grocery store. Boundaries allow us to maintain our peace and overall well being. They are also key in establishing how people can treat us. If you aren’t clear on your boundaries you will likely end up in place you have no business being, stretched beyond your capacity, or being pulled out of your character.
It is also important to note that boundaries aren’t always static. The some boundaries change as we grow or as relationships develop. Establishing boundaries also doesn’t mean you are a closed person, it requires people to meet certain standards before they are able to proceed into the more personal and intimate portions of your life.
I like to think about boundaries like playing a video game. There a several levels, and even if you do well on a level, you may not advance to the next level. And even if you master a level, it doesn’t mean you have won the entire game. You can spend a lot of time in a “video game world” and still not unlock all of the special features or discover all that it has to offer.
Here 5 steps to help you establish your boundaries:
Define your values and morale compass Your values and morale compass will show you the hard lines that you don't pass and won't allow others to pass either.
Define your priorities What do you have going on in your life? What is important to you? Determining your priorities will help you match your time and energy spent to the level of priority in your life. If people or activities don't fit within your priorities eliminate them or limit the time you spend participating in these activities
Find your line What is your breaking point? At what point do you say absolutely not! That’s your line.
Set your boundary 10 ft before the line Now that you can see your line take about 10 steps forward and that’s where your boundary should be set. Story Time!! A few months ago I attended a discussion about boundaries. The speaker compared living with boundaries to driving on the road as roads are designed with clear boundaries. You drive in your lane that is set by lines. Outside of that line is a shoulder often paired with a guard rail. The shoulder and guard rail create a buffer between us and the edge of the road and over the cliff. So if you happen to swerve or veer off course you enter the shoulder not over the cliff. However, when we set boundaries we tend to set them at the edge of the cliff. So if we veer off course we are already at the edge. We’ve gone too far to ensure the relationship remains in tact. Before we know it we’ve gone over the edge! So be sure you’ve set the boundary with cushion to create space to back up and reset.
Communicate your boundaries You don't have to stop every person and explicitly state they are crossing a boundary. But you can say no. Always remember “No.” is a complete sentence. A simple "No" or "No, I'm not interested" or No, but I can do ___" will suffice. Regardless of your approach, communicate your no.
I hope these tips help you think more about your boundaries. Let me know your thoughts or any tips that have helped you establish or maintain your boundaries.