When your mind conjures up the thought of creating boundaries, there are a million thoughts that probably ensue. If you are a people pleaser, a giver or have a difficult time saying no, you might experience a little bit of anxiety when it comes to setting personal boundaries with others. But, if you want to live a life where you have inner peace and is one that is balanced, setting boundaries is imperative for you.
It’s the difference between being overrun with anxiety or having a life in which you set the terms versus allowing others to set them for you. Look, I know it’s not easy to say no to your kids, your SO (significant other), family, friends or co-workers out of fear of backlash, but I’m going to teach you how learning to say ‘No,’ sets you up for a better ‘Yes.’
If you are making excuses as you read these words, and you are already saying things such as:
“I feel selfish when I don’t take care of others.”
“But, there is more happiness in giving than receiving.”
“Giving to others makes me feel good.”
“My (fill in the blank) kids, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, the boss can’t function without me.”
I’m going to strongly encourage you to keep reading. Why? Because this article is especially written with you in mind.
Busy Isn’t Always A Good Thing
You and I live in a busy world, but often busy doesn’t necessarily equate to good or productive busy. You may feel as though you are constantly running. But if you reflect and look at your daily to-do list, yes, I know you have one and evaluate your current lifestyle, it’s extremely important if you are going to learn to set boundaries that you become introspective and figure out if all of the busy work you are doing is truly serving you.
Tools for Setting Clearer Boundaries
Here are some tools you can start using right now to set clearer boundaries regardless of the relationship:
First things first, manage your time. Setting boundaries begin with understanding what is important to you and what you absolutely must accomplish. Understanding what is important to you means it’s crucial that you get serious about your time.
If you know what you want to do and how and you want to make it happen, you will gain greater clarity in making sure you are spending time on things that move you forward and that really matter. Prepare your daily schedule with to specific timeframes allocated for specific activities. Don’t worry if you don’t do everything within a specific time block. The whole purpose of this exercise is to plan your time in a way that focuses your efforts back on those things you want to do then use the extra time to do things with others. Amazingly, you will realize you have much more time than you thought, but then realize that you were willingly giving it away because of not setting boundaries with others to help them have more respect of your time.
Secondly, learn to use and say the word, “No,” more. Seriously, look in the mirror and practice it out loud so you can become comfortable with this two letter word that is your friend not foe.
At first, it will feel weird, almost awkward. It is especially the case when you are used to saying that other sometimes damning word, “Yes.” Here is the takeaway from this exercise. By learning to simply say, “No” more, you will eventually be asked to do much less. It’s counterintuitive, but try it for a couple of weeks and watch what happens.
Why? By saying “No,” it sets up a clear boundary with others that you aren’t the one they can always go to in order to get something done or accomplished. It will feel weirdly freeing and exhilarating to take charge of your life. And when you do say, “Yes,” others will be more appreciative of your effort and help.
Finally, pay attention to your feelings when you are doing for others. Setting, establishing, and reestablishing boundaries has a lot to do with your feelings and learning to manage them. And the good thing is that your feelings can be a great guide for you. When something, someone, or an activity drains your energy, take notice. I don’t care if you have been doing it forever or you feel like you have to do it because you have always done a particular things. Some things that you are doing may require an immediate pause or stop because it no longer serves you spiritually or emotionally.
When something makes you feel good, make sure you take notice too. Your emotions send clear signals to you about what is good for you emotionally and spiritually and those things that are no longer good for you. And these are what can be called your boundary guards. Saying “No” to your SO, kids, family, and friends is ok if you are not in the mood or you don’t want to be bothered and it isn’t detrimental to their well-being. And what you will realize is that most things are that big of a deal. They can wait. You can put them off or re-prioritize them. And that again is part of re-establishing boundaries and re-centering yourself.
Switching from a default of “Yes” is daring, but learning to say “No” and take back control of your life is life changing. Utilizing these three tools when you feel overwhelmed and when you feel your life is spinning in too many directions or out of control will not only help you set clearer boundaries but also increase your peace of mind.
Elizabeth Overstreet is an author, writer, and speaker. She wrote the book, “Love You & He Will Too: The Smart Woman’s Roadmap for Happy, Healthy Relationships.” She is noted as being ‘the relationship whisperer.’ Elizabeth enjoys coaching others to have relationship dynamics which work best for them. You can learn more about her philosophies relating to relationships here.