So you wanna set some boundaries…
Before we jump into that, have you read last week’s post?
Check it out here: Boundaries 101
Now let’s get clear on what a boundary isn’t:
- It’s not an ultimatum or a threat.
- It’s not about manipulating or controlling other people.
Boundaries are a way of loving yourself.
It sets up parameters for how you are going to be in a relationship and it’s always up to you to hold them.
You may not realize you have a boundary until somebody steps over it. Don’t feel guilty about setting it after the fact. Say someone gives you an unsolicited neck rub at work and in the moment, you’re like, oh, thank you! Then later, you’re creeped out by it. You don’t have to continue to allow the neck rubs.
Rule #1: It’s never too late to set a boundary. I don’t care what names somebody might call you.
You need to know why you have the boundary.
Does it keep you healthy? Does it keep you safe? Is it for privacy or because you don’t want to be bothered?
There’s no wrong reason to have a boundary, but you need to be honest with yourself about whether you’re willing to do what it takes to honor it.
Rule #2: Be clear on why you have this boundary, otherwise it’s going to be difficult to follow through on holding it.
How will you know it’s violated? Some boundaries, like not wanting to be punched in the face, are pretty clear.
What about when your mother-in-law lets herself into your house when you’re gone. She has your security code, because she sometimes watches your dogs, and at times decides she’d rather hang out there than her own house? Your spouse thinks it’s fine, but she’s walked in while you were home! Are you afraid to say something just because she may never want to dog sit for you again?
You have to decide if it’s worth having this boundary. If you just keep thinking “she shouldn’t come in” and you’re not willing to do anything to stop it, then it’s not a “boundary”. It’s a complaint.
Rule #3: Boundaries are for you. Other people may not like them or honor them.
It’s completely 100% your responsibility to hold it. Not your husband’s.
What will you do if the boundary is violated?
Drop the idea that the other person should or shouldn’t honor your boundary. Assume they will and create a plan to hold it. You have to alert them to what the boundary is and be very clear on what YOU will do if it’s violated.
Use this language:
“If you do X, I will do Y.”
“If you touch me without permission, I’ll report you to HR.”
“If you come over, check with us first, otherwise, we’ll change the security code.”
Rule #4: Make the request and share the consequence.
Understand that people are going to do what they’re going to do. They will wither respect your boundary or they won’t. You don’t control them, only yourself. Getting angry with them for not doing what you want doesn’t make the situation better, it just upsets you (wastes your energy) and makes the situation worse.
When you are afraid to set a boundary because you’re afraid of losing the relationship, you’re damaging your relationship with yourself and you’re being inauthentic with the other person. Do you really want a relationship where you’re pretending to be okay with something you’re not?
Don’t wait until you’re so frustrated with the other person that it becomes an ultimatum flinging, temper-tantruming, screaming match.
Don’t blame the other person or make it their fault that you’re setting the boundary. It’s your boundary. Not theirs. You want it. For you. For whatever reason you want to have it.
If they’re upset, let them be upset. As long as you know you are coming from a place of love and positivity, and you’re being clear and responsible for yourself, it’s not your fault they’re upset. They just have different ideas about how things should be. It’s very brave of you to set a boundary with someone rather than just cut them out of your life and never talk to them again.
Be very clear that it’s for you and it means nothing about how you feel about them. Maybe you don’t really care for the coworker giving free neck rubs. You don’t have to tell them your true feelings. The whole point is for you to feel responsible for yourself and be self-empowered.
Rule #5: Boundaries are for you!
Oh, I’ve said that? Well, it bears repeating.
I’d love to hear how you do setting boundaries!