Has anyone ever challenged you like that? Perhaps they are able to call at a time that is good for them, or maybe they visit without advanced notice. They know they can say whatever they want to say in your presence or have been able to do to you whatever their heart desires.
And then there’s you.
You answer their phone calls and texts, or you leave the door unlocked for them. With tight lips, you stare in disbelief at their demeaning comment, or you get your heart broken over and over without uttering a single word. Or, if you do utter a single word, it’s not one that makes a difference. Why? Because you have little to no boundaries. Or if you do, you don’t adhere to them. You’re a push-over. A coward. A people-pleaser. Now hold on one second, you shout in your defense. You’ve gone too far! Now you’re talking! Because I hit a nerve, you’ve drawn a boundary! Not the best one I’ve ever heard, but it’s a start!
Where is your line in the sand? What are your non-negotiables? Do you even know? If not, then you’re probably not at peace, my friend. Look. I believe there’s a sweet, little boundary lodged somewhere in that head of yours. It’s the best-kept secret since Costco introduced its 97 cents-at-the-end-of-the-price-tag secret (means it’s really cheap and will be out-of-stock soon). A lot of people don’t know that, so they can’t take advantage of it and buy lots of that item since it’s going bye-bye. People want to be in the know, especially with you and your boundaries. Why? It saves them from embarrassment, and it saves you from a truckload of angst if you simply say what you want. Voice your expectations. If you don’t want people calling you after 10pm, tell them. Do what you want to do. Don’t do what you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go to the bar, say it, rather than going and ending up with a sore head in the morning. If you’re not really into flea-markets, then tell the truth, and skip it.
Here are some keys to creating healthy boundaries for you and your significant other, your kids, your friends, and your family.
- Realize your feelings. They matter so much here. Notice how you feel in certain situations. Do you like how you feel or don’t you? How do you react to these situations?
- Pay attention to your feelings once you decide what they are. Are you uncomfortable at all? Is there a need for privacy? Do you feel uneasy at the thought of speaking in public? Do you cringe as your friend talks with a mouthful of guacamole?
- Decide what’s important to you. What are your expectations? Are there any deal-breakers? What are the things you can and can’t handle?
- Communicate these things respectfully to your people. Let them know what you want, need, and expect. You might say things like, Hey I really don’t like seeing your cat walking on the countertops while you’re making dinner. Or It would be so nice if you wouldn’t pick your nose while we’re in public. News Flash: If you’re worried or anxious to verbalize your boundaries to anyone, it could be a sign that person isn’t one with whom you’d like to spend your time.
- Enforce, enforce, enforce. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. They’ll get used to it, and you’ll be so happy!