In recent weeks I have noticed that a few people, not necessarily friends, have crossed boundary lines that I thought were in place. Some boundary crossings hurt my feelings while others were intrusive, unsettling and down-right rude. I admit some of this was my fault. Now comes the delicate job of re-setting those boundaries again. Boundaries are easy for some to follow and very difficult for others. Family and friends will push back at first, due to the fact that the behavior in question has been allowed. With all that said, the idea of setting boundaries may fall low on your totem pole and mine BUT they need to be set in order for you to survive. So how will you do it and what will you say?
- No means NO. Learning to say NO is very hard for people pleasers and those who do not like conflict. No is also hard for those who are classic avoiders and do not like to engage in conversation. Yes appears to be the easy alternative. Right? WRONG! Think about this and let me know how it changes your mind-set? Each time you say YES to something or someone, you are saying NO to time better spend elsewhere, like with family.
- Know what YOU WANT and NEED. Needs and wants are tricky. One of these is a “must have” in order to survive and the other is a “like to have” and is not necessary for survival but it will help keep you sane. After you decide what you want and need. Make a plan for getting it. For example, I need down time away from my family. My child is ten, he understands. I simply say to him, “Mommy needs 10 minutes alone in her room. Please go play.” It is not rocket science. I have said it enough that he knows he needs to find something do. He is much better at handling boundaries set than most adults. Start early with setting boundaries with your children.
- You are not responsible for hurt feelings. Once your boundary is set and you have told people what you expect of them, you are NOT responsible for how they feel. Trust me when I tell you, they will resist because you have given into them in the past. If you no longer want them crossing the line you are going to have to stand up for yourself! You do not need to feel responsible if they are mad, sad or hurt. This is not your issue. Let me repeat that…YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HOW THEY FEEL!
- Stick to your guns. Years ago I stepped down from a very high-ranking non-profit position and no one took it well. They begged for weeks for me to return and attempted to involve me in a number of activities. But I was sure, stepping down was in the best interest of my family and continued to decline offers to come back. Continuing to say no to something is not bad, its called sticking to your guns. After you have made your announcement, no amount of whining, crying or begging from others should change your mind.
- Get rid of feelings of guilt. PLEASE! I gave this up years ago. Stress and guilt takes years off your life and quite frankly is not worth it! Think about your family and how much better off they would be once you alleviate those precious feelings of guilt you insist on hanging on to…..kind of like pants that are too small. Feeling guilty? Ask yourself WHY? If you cannot come up with a good answer….cut it out!
I agree that setting boundaries is hard work. You will be frustrated, you will hurt feelings, you might cry and you will be exhausted. It takes time, effort and energy to do something of this magnitude. People in your life will not be happy and you need to be ready for it.However, at the end of the day, you will be pleased by the results. Try it and see.