Why is telling people the truth about how we feel and what we want so hard? How many times have you walked away from a conversation thinking, “How did I get talked into that?” How about gone along with a something just because you didn’t want to cause waves, even though you knew you were going to end up in a place you didn’t really want to be? It happens to the best of us. And once you’ve agreed to something it is twice as hard to go back and un-agree. So, you decide to just do whatever it is to keep the peace. Every time that happens, your personal boundaries are being breached and a little bit of you is being taken away.
So how can we create boundaries, take care of ourselves and not feel like we are being mean? Here are a few ideas to consider so the next time you need to say “no” you have the tools to do so in a way that is heard and respected.
1 – Believe that you are important and that you matter. Doing someone a favor is great and I am a huge proponent of going out of your way for others; just not at the expense of taking care of yourself. Check in with yourself and make sure your needs are being met before other people’s favors.
2 – Being blindsided will get you every time. When that little voice in your head is jumping up and down screaming trying to get your attention it means you need a chance to think about what you are being asked before you answer. Try listening to yourself. These statements will give you some space to think: “I need a bit to process that. Can I get back to you tomorrow?” “I really want to jump right in and say yes. I have learned I need to check my schedule before adding something new. I would really hate for you to be counting on me and have to back out. I’ll call you back this afternoon.”
3 – Call it like it is. When you have to tell someone no it works best if you let them know you are setting a personal boundary. Acknowledge the request, “I can really tell you need some help on this”. Then set your boundary, “In this case I need to create some boundaries around (work, family, personal time, etc) and I’m not going to be able to be the one to do that for you.”
4 – Let your no be no. If you say no and use the creating boundaries reason you absolutely can NOT let someone badger you into changing it to a yes. Once you give in it will teach the people in your life that no does not actually mean no it just means they have to push, nag and cajole you. If something in your schedule changes and you can change your mind, fine. Explain that and by all means help out. But boundaries only work if you actually keep them once you set them.
5 – You don’t have to explain why. When someone asks you why they are looking for reasons they can explain away or downgrade so they can get what they want. Don’t try to justify your boundary when they try to push it. Keep repeating that you are unable to do what they are asking.
6 – Respect the boundaries of others. Part of being able to set personal boundaries is accepting when others do so. You might not like it. You might wish it was different but sometimes even the people we love have to take care of themselves first. And that is okay. In fact not only is it okay, it is healthy.
What tips do you have for creating personal boundaries with grace? We would love to hear from you!
Last week we talked about a common emotional language.
Next week: Telling the truth doesn’t have to hurt