Boundaries are often thought of as something abrupt or harsh, or maybe a thing that must be said out loud, or that by implementing boundaries it means we are saying we don’t like or care about someone.
When you consider boundaries in this way, it is no wonder there is some resistance to setting boundaries in the workplace or at home!
In a world where we are working from home more and more, it is essential that we look at boundaries in a different way.
As Jaiya John nicely sums up: “Boundaries should not be an electric fence that shocks all those who touch it, rather it is a consistent light around you that announces I will be treated sacredly”.
So how do you go about setting boundaries?
Let’s begin with intention setting. Do you take time to set an intention before stepping into different spaces? Setting an intention for any experience (such as a meeting or a family event) is the first thing that you can do to protect the space around you.
It’s a way of acknowledging to yourself and others your intention of how you want things to go. You can either share this intention so people are clear on what to expect from you, or you can keep it to yourself as a guiding compass of how you want to show up.
Once your intentions are clear, you can start to create and influence the spaces around you by setting boundaries in areas that you occupy such as your space at home, your space online, or any space you share with others, like your work environment.
This might look like having certain things around you to make you feel calm, it might be unfollowing accounts on social media, only being on platforms that make you feel good, reducing your news consumption, not engaging in gossip, or it might be standing up for others or what you believe in.
These types of acts create boundaries that remove negative influences from your life and provide more space for what you want to positively influence you instead.
Where people often run into challenges with boundaries is the ‘caring too much’ space. If you communicate or act from the “caring too much” space, you may be stepping into a rescuer zone.
- Do you frequently step in to help other people?
- What are the consequences of you being a rescuer? For both you & the other person?
- How can you manage your urges here?
Putting in a clear boundary with someone can demonstrate that you believe they are the expert in their own life and have the answers they need within them.
This creates more self-efficacy. If I fell into the trap of being a rescuer in my work as a coach, I would be terrible at my job! The potential of my clients would diminish whilst mine would increase, and I would create a codependent relationship that doesn’t serve anybody’s best interests.
Now for roles!
Do you ‘change hats’ when you move between your roles or do you tend to never take off your hats, and wear them all at once?
If you are not intentionally changing your hats in the different roles you occupy, you can probably find yourself feeling exhausted, switching into resentment and then feeling guilty for not dealing with situations in the way you wanted to.
Does any of the above sound familiar?
Here are two tips for creating boundaries around your roles:
- Let people know when you are transitioning into a different role.
- Signal to yourself you are changing roles. You can do this by getting changed out of your work clothes to signal to yourself and others that you are no longer wearing your work hat.
Lastly, make sure you are comfortable with the amount of time you are giving/or receiving to or from others.
If you tend to over give in your roles by a way of receiving self-worth or validation, this is a path to burnout and resentment.
While boundaries might take some work to initially set up, they are a great way in which we can stay in control of the demands we experience in life – work life, family and friends.
Boundaries also help manage the expectations that others have for us. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or resentful it might be time to reset or start some boundaries.
Always go back to these quick tips:
- Identify your wants. Honor them. Nobody is going to read your mind and do this for you. People always love to be on the receiving end of an over-giver, so it’s certainly not going to be them to force you to do less! It has to be a decision that is made within you.
- The more you honor your boundaries, (opening to what feels good, turning away from what feels bad) the less resentful you are and the more you have to give.
- Express your needs. Let people know your feelings. What is okay and what isn’t. Most people prefer to know where they stand. It is possible to do this in a compassionate way by using “I” language.
- Your body is a great indicator to know if something feels good or not. Tune into it before making decisions.
Bree Nicholls is the Founder and Director of The Being Way, a consciously curated coaching method that blends the world of coaching, counselling, psychotherapy and mindfulness together.