The dreaded word for some of us is “boundaries.”
I’m not sure why we dread it or why it makes us uncomfortable, but for some reason or reasons, it does.
I used to be someone who struggled with this a lot. I learned a dynamic of codependency as the norm, and I began to see this play out in my adult relationships. I was an enabler, and I was being enabled in many ways. I took on other people’s pain as my own and felt responsible for fixing them. I wanted someone to save me. Saying no was hard and invoked a physical response any time I needed to say it. Just the thought of saying no to someone gave me anxiety.
I had a misconception that at work, I always had to say yes. Say yes to more responsibility, say yes to tasks or projects I couldn’t do within the time frame given, say yes to that special project because it will make me look good. It was constant.
I had a misconception in dating that I always had to say yes to men just because they asked me out and were interested. It was on their terms for the when and where they wanted to see me. I felt like I needed to put myself out there and explore my feelings even though my physical response was always saying no. I had a belief that I can’t be too “guarded” all the time. Heck, everyone else was fleeting into relationships.
Part of the reason why I didn’t set boundaries was that I was afraid that people would leave, or I would be missing out on something. I was never taught to say no or ask for what I wanted because it was a take what you can get attitude. You can’t be too picky now; you still need so much more before you can have it.
It was a painful place to live emotionally and mentally. I felt disrespected a lot of the time, unseen, misunderstood, and I didn’t know how to take my power back at work and in my relationships.
Fast forward, and it took a lot of practice and observing how others responded to this new person who now changed the game. Not a lot of people saw it coming, and some of them didn’t like it.
You teach others how to treat you. That’s what I heard before I made a big move. I had heard it said before, and this time, it landed.
It started when I booked a meeting with a VP to request how I would like to be addressed in the organization. At first, I was addressed as a part-time student, still in school. I was 29 years old, had multiples degrees, certificates and diplomas at that point and was on a contract before my next significant role within this company. So in my meeting, I requested from the Vice President for how I would like to be introduced instead to members of the organization. It was the first time I stood up for myself with something important to me to lose. I was nervous, terrified, and yet so empowered and proud of myself. I had had enough. After that point, my world began to change.
Are you someone who struggles setting boundaries with the people in your life?
Tip Sheet for Setting Boundaries
The problem: You have to say no to an event you can’t go to FOR WHATEVER REASON.
Boundary: Hey X, thank you for the invite and for thinking of me. I would love to attend; however, I won’t be able to make it that day. Have a wonderful time.
The problem: You don’t have time to take on more work at work because you are already overworked.
Boundary: Hi there, Thank you for thinking of me for this project. I am at capacity for the next X weeks/months working on X. I won’t be able to put attention to this right now. Is there anyone else you have in mind that can help you?
The problem: You’ve been invited to a first date. The invite is to meet them close to their place for a drink.
Boundary: Hey, how about we meet at X place instead? I won’t be around the area that evening, and this place makes good (wine, food, coffee etc.) 😉
The problem: You’ve been asked to discount your services for a client because they really want to work with you, but you are not in the business to offer discounted services.
Boundary: Hey X, I enjoy working with you because you are a ton of fun to work with. I would love to continue working with you. To work with me, here are my prices for the programs/package/service. I have a small amount of space each year for probono/discount services reserved for X only.
I look forward to hearing from you.
You have to hear your friend again complain about the same thing over and over again, and you just don’t have the energy to listen to it.
Boundary: Hey X, you know I am here for you and that I love you. I want to support you as much as I can, and I can no longer be supportive of this topic because I feel that we don’t get anything accomplished when we talk about it. Is there anyone you can speak to about this that can offer more support?
Do you get the drift?
I mean, I can keep going. I’ve had them all. What will open up for you is a world full of stability, peace, more time to focus on what’s important, safety, and fulfillment. You have permission to choose where when and with who you want to spend your time. No one has that kind of access to you.
Setting boundaries takes practice, patience and observation. Some people won’t like it, and they will turn away from you. They aren’t the ones you need to pay attention to anyways because the right people will respect your boundaries — the ones who don’t are worth walking away from anyways.
Let me know where in your life you need to step up and set boundaries.
Is it in your work, friendships, romantic relationship, family? Send a reply to this email and let me know where you still need to set boundaries in your life.
My Offer: If you want to experience coaching with me on setting boundaries with the people in your life, book an introduction discovery coaching call here for only $50.00. This is for new clients only who never have experienced coaching with me, and together, we will set you up with tools and techniques to set boundaries with the people in your life. To book your call, click here.
Sonia Grossi, CPCC