The clock chimed 10:00pm. Leah wearily raised her head to confirm it was really this late. She contemplated whether she’d get the presentation completed. Leah resented she was working another late night—she wasn’t sure how to break this bad habit cycle or how she had tumbled down this dark rabbit hole. The long hours were adding up and becoming exhausting—murdering the creativity she was desperately willing her mind to tap into. She vowed to herself to stick with it because the deadline she promised was in the morning. She had given her word the presentation would be ready. People were counting on her.
If only she could turn back time by several hours to have the day play out differently. If only Leah remembered the steps the recent workshop consultant emphasized around setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Leah’s day started out on track. She prioritized her projects and allowed the whole afternoon to strategy and create the presentation. Then the phone rang with a desperate call from Christine. “Leah, thank goodness you’re around. I need your help. I need you to come over to help me make room in the garage for the lawn mower Scott ordered. The freight company is making the delivery today and Scott is still out of town. If I don’t accept the delivery the freight company said it would be two weeks before they could make the next delivery schedule.”
Leah sighed heavily because she knew with her deadline she couldn’t be there for Christine and work on the presentation. Leah felt she had no choice even though she’d have regrets later. What else could Leah do?
If you’ve been in Leah’s shoes before, there have been times you’ve said “yes” when you’ve wanted to say “no.” It costs you to ignore your own needs, to abandon your own truth, and to violate what is comfortable for you. Follow these five steps to relearn how to set a healthy boundary.
Boundary Setting in 5 Steps
Step 1: Identify what you will accept from others.
Setting a boundary is part of the process of setting priorities, honoring, and taking care of yourself. It’s key to recognize you have the right to protect yourself and to take control of your life by clearly communicating how you will allow others to treat you.
This starts from the inside out. As a child, you would often have boundaries violated by everything around you. A child believes they have no say over their boundaries because over time the people in their world—parents, teachers, and other authority figures—tell them where their limits are. As an adult, it takes practice to learn to identify the natural emotional and spiritual borderlines which have always been around each of us.
Step 2: Say “no” without the guilt.
Yes, it is possible to say “no” nicely and firmly without letting guilt sway you into doing what you’d rather not do. For a teeny two-letter word, “no” can be difficult for many—especially women—to utter. Why? Because you may not have learned “no” is a complete sentence all by itself. There is seldom a need to defend or explain yourself when you say “no.”
Simply be clear, firm, and move on. If you wish to add anything, explain to others that in order to honor your priorities you can’t accommodate another request right now. If you said “yes” out of guilt and want to change your mind, do it. Never forget, you can reschedule a request or change your mind if it does not contribute to your overall priorities.
Let’s give Leah some examples she could have used:
- “I can’t fit anything else into my schedule today. I have a deadline plus errands to run.”
- “I have other plans I am already committed to doing.”
- “For any other day, I could help out. I just can’t do it today.”
Step 3: Stand up for yourself.
When you don’t clearly communicate to others what your boundaries are, they can violate you emotionally, physically, and spiritually. You teach people how to treat you by mirroring your own behavior and reflecting back what you value and respect. Each time you ignore your own truth, you ignore your own needs. Your emotions are then suppressed into your subconscious until the day comes when they explode because you’ve had enough. Think about this: do you speak up for yourself when a line has been crossed, violated, or tested or do you remain silent? During these times, you must take action to protect yourself.
Step 4: Trust your own wisdom and intuition first.
When a request is asked of you that doesn’t jive with your own plans it’s not uncommon to get a twinge, a queasy feeling, or just know deep-down you really don’t want to do this. Listen to this feeling because your intuition and inner wisdom is whispering and trying to be your guide. You’re feeling bad about the request because you already know it’s not something you need to do or should do. Honor this feeling. You can learn you don’t need to factor in what anybody else says or thinks at this point because “this” thing doesn’t sit well with you. With awareness of your inner self, you can aspire to get to this point with some practice.
Step 5: Strengthen your inner self.
As you practice taking care of mind, body, and spirit you will experience your confidence growing. Follow these suggestions to positively support your overall well-being:
- Make yourself number one as a priority, never an after-thought.
- Spend your time and energy on things which bring you joy.
- Make choices based on what you value in life.
- Be pro-active about your health by being physically active.
- Connect with others working in a career you’re passionate about.
- Build a support network of family and close friends where you can vent your concerns and feelings.
It’s important to learn to stand your ground and find healthy ways to protect your time and energy while you embrace your own personal happiness each day. I hope you find setting healthy boundaries really comes with no limits in sight. Use the steps provided to break down the barriers which had been holding you back and pushing you down.
Having borderlines around what’s important to you is actually liberating. If you’d like someone to guide you along the way of setting healthy boundaries, schedule a 1:1 consulting session with me for some personalized planning. It would be my honor to support you.
About Diane Randall
Diane Randall, M.A., is a Whole Living Consultant, author, podcast show host, college instructor, and professional speaker. Her book, Jumpstart Your Life: Find Your Motivation and Change Your Life One Step at a Time, teaches how to take discomfort and reshape it into something transformative and is available on Amazon. Diane is energized, committed, and passionate about leading wellness conversations around life balance, self-care, plant-based nutrition, and whole life wellness. Her joy is when men and women adapt health and wellness methods that reduce stress and bring harmonious balance to their lives. She excels at equipping high-level professionals with workable wellness advice and strategies that fit their demanding lifestyle. For more information visit her website at www.DianeRandallConsults.com.