Life Coaching Tip: Setting healthy boundaries can feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s an important step towards up leveling your life. It’s all about self-care. As you practice, your guilt will begin to dissipate, and your will feel more empowered. The benefits will totally outweigh the initial discomfort, I promise!
After writing a few weeks ago about the importance of learning to say “no” to the demands of others so you have space for what’s meaningful to you, I heard from several readers who were able to relate to my story.
And this isn’t surprising because many of us were taught that pleasing others is a way to win love and acceptance.
The message was especially clear for women from the patriarchal society in which we were raised: It’s not polite to take a stand for ourselves or put our needs first.
And so, we avoid confrontations and try not to disappoint others, for fear of appearing selfish, the biggest sin of all.
But really, this pattern of striving to be self-LESS is truly the wrongdoing. You, my friend, with all your unique gifts and talents, were not meant to be LESS than yourself.
You were meant to be the star in the story of your life, not a supporting character. And to truly shine, this means saying “no” to anything that gets in the way of that happening.
I previously wrote about how changing the habit of saying an automatic “yes” to every request will feel uncomfortable and take practice, and so I encouraged you to start small.
Practice with humans you are not close with, like the telemarketer who just wants a “few moments of your time,” and then gradually make your way to those closer to you.
*If you missed that story, you will find it here: The Answer is No: A Lesson in Boundaries 101.
And today, since the topic of boundaries has sparked so much interest, I’ve decided to offer you a few more ideas to help you through the holidays.
‘Tis the season for togetherness AND establishing healthy boundaries!
Recently, when we talked about boundaries in my Shine On Group Program, some of the shine sisters in the group realized they weren’t clear about what a boundary actually was or what they truly needed. This may be true for you too, especially if you didn’t grow up in a household that modeled healthy boundaries.
And so, to gain some clarity, one of our group assignments was to create a “boundary circle.”
This is the exercise if you’d like to do it too…
First, ask yourself, “What do I need in order to be seen, supported and heard.” Be honest with yourself about what you need and want, then consider your personal values and standards.
Next, draw a circle, and inside the circle, write these things down. Leave anything that doesn’t align with your values and standards outside the circle.
Once you’re sure about what you need and want, then it’s time to get clear about the boundaries you need to put in place to successfully get you there.
For instance, if what you want/need for your life is peace and serenity, with lots of time for quiet thought and idea generation as you draft your new novel, then some of the boundaries you might consider are:
*Saying “no” to uninvited guests who visit during the daytime hours, especially your loud, over-dramatic Aunt Theresa.
*Saying “no” when your husband schedules the annual furnace inspection in the middle of a weekday, even though “you’re home anyways, and it will only take a few minutes.”
*Saying “no” to yourself when your brain wants to go to that old familiar place of telling you that you’re selfish and deserving of living a guilt-ridden life of misery.
And, as you courageously begin to implement your new boundaries, you will need to get curious about the thoughts that come up that stoke your fear. Then, you must deal with the fear.
Almost always, your primal brain will embellish and exaggerate the dangers.
I mean, seriously, you will be just fine if Aunt Theresa yells at you or stops talking to you for a while, no matter what your brain tells you.
However, you will not be fine if you live your entire life inauthentically, putting your needs and wants on the backburner.
You will also need to be direct with the folks who lay a guilt trip on you, tug at your heartstrings, or try to bully you into putting their needs and wants ahead of your own.
Try: “No, that doesn’t work for me” or “No, I won’t” or “No, that is not acceptable” or “No, I don’t want to.”
Practice offering no apology and making it all about you: “I can’t talk on the phone every night this week because I am busy working on my new business.”
Finally, if this is all new for you, give yourself some grace. “No” is not going to roll off your tongue right away, especially when a request comes unexpectedly.
However, rather than going to your automatic “yes,” buy yourself some time. “Let me think about it” is an easy, straightforward way to do so, giving you time to practice a strong, direct “no,” if that’s what best serves you.
Please let me know how it goes and contact me if you’d like some coaching support. Setting healthy boundaries can feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s an important step towards up leveling your life.
It’s all about self-love.
And the terrific news is, as you practice, your guilt will begin to dissipate, and your will feel more powerful. It’s totally worth the initial discomfort.
‘Tis the season, right? (wink)
Happy Holidays, my friend!