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Four Ways to Better Boundaries

Have you historically been that person that flops into bed at night exhausted from doing too much, staying too silent, feeling too stressed, and not really enjoying your life?

You may be suffering from a lack of ability to know when and how to set healthy boundaries in your life.

Boundaries, though they can be difficult to set initially, often make life more beautiful as we shift our life into one of thoughtful intention, contemplation and protection.

The fall out of not setting boundaries, is we are often overworked and exhausted from doing too much. Partners, spouses, bosses and /or extended family often like it when we are lacking in boundaries because we are so accommodating. They may or may not realize we are serving to our own detriment.

People who lack boundaries are often afraid that someone will be mad at them, not like them or that a friend group, relative or coworker will think less of them if they set healthy boundaries. This fear often motivates a person to be a “yes person” no matter what the request, how long it might take, or the personal toll of doing for others leaving them short on time and energy to fulfill their own personal basic needs.

If you are ready for a change in this area of your life, you may benefit by learning both when and how to set boundaries. It all starts with awareness. When you are paying attention internally to your thoughts as well as how you are feeling, you can begin to notice when you are saying yes, when you really need to say no, or not now. The Intention is to find more balance and in thoughtful contemplation, begin to take more time and space before you give someone a Yes. Ultimately, the goal is to protect your time, energy, health and wellbeing- giving what you can reasonably give without causing a detriment to your own mental, emotional or physical health. Here are the 4 ways to begin to break the lack of boundaries cycle.

1. Increase internal awareness: Paying closer attention to what your bodily sensations are telling you is an important start. If someone is asking something of you and your whole body tenses up, that may be a sign that the mere thought of saying yes to someone’s request has you stressed.

2. Make time and space before you give a reply. I call this the 60 second rule. It could just as easily be the 10 minute rule, or the 24 hour rule… in other words, you let the person know you’ve heard their request, and instead of your usual automatic yes, you let them know you will need to think about it and you will get back with them ( and let them know when.)

3. Increase your moments of intention – Take time and space to reflect on whether you are tempted to say yes, so “someone won’t be mad at me.” If that is the case, you may need to step back and remind yourself that you cannot be everyone’s everything. There are some things people can and ought to do themselves. Do not answer a request for your time or energy until you have thoughtfully contemplated whether saying yes is truly doable for you, or if it will tip over into being a detriment and drain on your time, energy and wellbeing.

4. Remind yourself you are worthy of protecting. In other words, your needs matter as much as the person requesting something from you. Protecting your time, energy and health is your responsibility so take that seriously. When you learn to say yes to who and what matters most, and no to the things that don’t, you will find yourself giving with a glad heart and no longer doing too much to the point of exhaustion.

Learning both how and when to set boundaries is a process. There are many good books that can help you learn this skill. It can feel incredibly uncomfortable the first few times you begin to set boundaries. That means you are making a new choice to care for yourself and are making your needs priority as well.

Giving someone a good no, is something that comes with time and practice. Once you have the awareness of what to say yes to and what to say no to, then you can begin to communicate that to others in a way that is respectful and compassionate. Setting boundaries when done well, does not generally result in conflict especially if you are “owning your message.”

Focus on using “I language” as you deliver your no or not now message to someone who perhaps needs to hear your good no.

Once you practice utilizing boundaries, you will likely be amazed at the freedom that comes from giving a true yes- when you mean yes- and a good no when you need to say no.



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