Setting and Maintaining Boundaries
What stops us maintaining boundaries? Usually it’s fear. We want to feel safe with other people and we worry that if we set boundaries we will be booted out of the circle.
We all crave connection and are often afraid of rejection. It can feel really scary, especially if we have the tendency to "people please". It takes a big sense of self to create and maintain boundaries.
Why are boundaries so important?
Boundaries let other people know how we will tolerate being treated and remind us (and others) that we deserve respect.
When our boundaries are transgressed, we are usually having to lower our values or put other people's needs before our own. The warning signals in our brain usually let us know that it doesn't feel good, but often we ignore the signals and this can get us into some wobbly territory. Not honouring our boundaries often leads to resentments, anger or burn out.
So how do we create and maintain boundaries?
- Removing alcohol is usually a great first step
- Practice saying "no" without accompanying your "no" with a big story as to why you are saying no. It could just be, "I don't feel like it today"
- Leave the situation if you feel like your boundaries are being crossed
- Work with a therapist or a coach who can help you start small and work you way up to bigger things
- Journal about how you would like to create boundaries in your life and how setting boundaries will impact your life
- Communicate your needs as clearly and concisely as possible
- Get a strong visual and write down where you would like to create more boundaries
- Stay consistent
The boundaries in your life will shape your growth and relationships. If you don’t protect your well-being, nobody else will.
The first and most important step to defining your boundaries is to make them clear and not negotiable. Boundaries can feel confusing and confronting at first because they are usually non-existent after years of drinking (which usually lower our boundaries and values).
By visualising your boundaries and writing them down, you can get much more clarity on where you want to draw the line between you and people in your life..
Set aside some time to ask yourself:
What is the current state of my life?
What is causing me stress or discomfort?
What do I look forward to each day and what do I dread?
Who or what gives me energy?
What areas of my life do I feel drained by?
What makes me feel supported and valued?
One of the biggest challenges we face when setting boundaries is openly sharing them and letting people know what they are. Sometimes we assume that other people should know our boundaries, but if we don’t clearly communicate where you draw the line, how will you or other people know when that line has been crossed?
If someone reacts badly to your expressing your needs, it’s more to do with something triggering their stuff, and very rarely a reflection on your actions.