Setting Boundaries: Basics

There has been alot of talk lately about setting boundaries and how good that is about mental health. I’m sure that you have read a few articles bout how being a yes man is no longer a good thing considering it can put major strain on your work quality and productivity.

All of these things are true. But for those of us that are taught that the only way to get a head is to be avaiable 24 hours 7 days a week, just saying to set boundaries isn’t exactly helpful. Not to be sexist, but women are taught this from the beginning. Be there for your family, be there for work, be social, be a good friend, be a good wife; all of these require 100% of our energy all the time. Obviously this is an impossible task. But sometimes setting those boundries feels just as impossible. Saying not to your boss sucks. Saying no to that women at your kids school makes you feel like a shitty parent. Saying no to your friends who always seem to have time to add in one more yoga/mimosa morning makes it sound like you’re a stick in the mud or you’re neglecting your friends.

So how do you begin to set this boundaries?

Like every first step I put on here, your first step is going to be self awareness. Identify what things suck your energy out. You know the ones that I’m talking about. The ones that give you that pit in your stomach or fill you with a sense of dread. For example, that coworker that is asking you to go out for drinks all the time but you always leave feeling like you need a nap. Pay attention to what drains your energy, makes you feel uncomfortable, makes you want to cry or makes you tired but you’re still doing it because you feel like you have to.

Here are some examples of questions in Bold and how I answer them with some of my things:

  1. To Protect my time and Energy…its alright for me to decline dinner invitations on weeknights.
  2. People may not … Talk about my weight/ what I eat.
  3. I have the right to ask extension if time lines are not realistic.

The actual Setting of your boundaries is going to be the hardest part. Make sure you come to this situation in a calm and neutral tone. You are not trying to dismiss any of these people or offend them. All you are doing is stating where things are. Most adults will understand this if you articulate it in the proper way. Try these hacks on for size:

  • Use Simple, direct language. (Do not explain yourself more than you have to. Your time is yours.)
  • Do not apologize but be gracious.

“I can’t take on any extra volenteering this weekend. That time is the time I dedicate to my family.”

  • If people continue to ask or comment, repeat the statement again.
  • Do not back down from your stance. This tells people its alright to ignore your needs

“I’m not okay with you commenting on my weight and am asking you to stop.”

“I was just saying (Blah blah blah).”

“I’m still telling you I find it inapproprate and am saying the subject is off limits regardless of your intentions. “

No doubt you will feel guilty about setting there personal boundaries. It takes time and practice to make any life style change. Most of us have been taught to please from a young age. It’s going to take some time and support to change that.

Remind people around you that you are doing this for you so that you can be more present and productive when you are there. It sounds cliche, but know doubt the people that truly care about you have noticed you running yourself into the ground and will be happy to support you in this time of change.

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