“A lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect.” – www.allcupation.com
Setting boundaries is a very important aspect of life, but something that most people have difficulty with. What’s the purpose of a boundary? In short, it provides clarity and a sense of safety by teaching others how to treat you – what’s ok and not ok. By knowing who you are enables you to know what the limits and extent is of what you will and will not tolerate.
I chatted to someone recently who shared that they’re “not taking sh*t from anybody anymore”. I reflected a bit on this and want to unpack it a bit here. What does “not taking sh*t from anyone” entail and who and how do I need to be to put in place and maintain such a boundary?
SETTING BOUNDARIES IS EASIER WHEN YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Who you are is not what you do or the role you fulfill in life (mother, father, CEO, accountant, etc). But what you bring to what you do and the various roles you fulfill. It’s your unique secret sauce, your sparkle, your magic sprinkles that you bring to this world.
Without knowing what the “sh*t boundary” may be, you could continue setting boundaries where you think it should be and not where you know they have to be. The “sh*t” for one person may not be universally applicable. So knowing your space will help you define appropriate boundaries. If you are committed to what you think others want and need you to be, your boundaries will be very different when compared to when you truly know who you are.
HOW TO GET THERE?
This is an important aspect of the transformative coaching process of getting to know who you truly are. The outcome of this process is clarity on what you will and will not tolerate in your life. Clients learn what and where their boundaries need to be and how to maintain them and not feel a shred of guilt for implementing them, instead they feel empowered.
By standing up for yourself you speak and stand in your truth without fear or compromise and you’re able to set boundaries with confidence and ease. Plus, you have the confidence to enforce/maintain when your boundaries are breached. Speaking up and standing in your own truth does not imply aggression. On the contrary, it’s about being assertive and confident in the boundaries that you put in place.
SO, LET’S GET PRACTICAL:
Say you need to set a boundary with a family member. A difficult one right? So the family member expects you to drop everything when they need something. Or, be their private taxi when it suits them. Perhaps you are constantly told how and what to do or not do. How do you handle this?
By means of a dialogue, I will demonstrate how you could set your boundary in this phone conversation.
Family member: Hi. I need you to drive me to the mall now to get a few groceries please.
You: I would really like to help you, but right now is not convenient for me. I am in the middle of something. I am going that way after 3pm today. Could pick you up then?
Family member: I’m sure you can get back to it later? I am desperate right now.
You: as I’ve said to you earlier, I will gladly drive you a little later.
Family member: But it’s important to me right now. Is this how you treat your family?
You: Since you are in a hurry, perhaps it’s a better idea to take a taxi or ask someone else if they could drive you right away.
Family member: Oh well, fine then, you’re so selfish! I will just ask….. Bye.
You: Sure. Let me know if you want me to pick you up after 3pm. Bye-bye.
SETTING BOUNDARIES: THE RULES
- Don’t get caught up in the drama
- No need to justify your answers or position
- Be firm, but calm
- Don’t give in – on your terms – but, as in this case, “accommodating”
- Do not try to “change” them.
YOUR TURN. GET STARTED
List all the things that you do not want present in your life. This could be circumstances, people’s behaviour or lack of behaviour, etc. For example, the idea of working in a job that doesn’t inspire you, add it to your list.
Also, note down if you are ridiculed or poked fun at about your physical appearance or other attributes. Jot down if someone in your life engages in behaviour that you are not OK with. Don’t hold back, get it all out onto your list.
By knowing what you will not tolerate, the choices become much easier to make. This allows you to set rules and preferences about who and what you will invite into your life. As well as the standards of behaviour you will, and will not, tolerate.
THE BOTTOM LINE ABOUT SETTING BOUNDARIES
So, if boundaries are about teaching others how to treat you, then you need to know who you are. Right? This allows you to know where to place the boundaries and how to stand firm on these boundaries. It’s important to note that it’s not about changing others, but about changing your thoughts, feelings and actions. By changing your own behaviour, others’ behaviour towards you changes.
I really like how Dr Katrina Katen explains it in this video.
The boundaries you set flow from how well you know yourself. In turn, how well you know yourself allows you to define what you will and will not tolerate from others. As you would maintain and repair a physical boundary, say around your property, your personal boundaries need constant attention.
Go ahead and journal all the things that you do not want present in your life. This will help you define the rules and standards of behaviour you will, and will not, tolerate in your life.
I would love to hear your thoughts about setting boundaries in your life.