Begin to Set Personal Boundaries
August 14th, 2009
Do you have a hard time standing up for yourself? Do you keep agreeing to do things that you really don’t want to do? Do you tolerate rude comments or pushy people because you can’t handle conflict? Do you take things personally?
Life coach Cheryl Richardson says that creating stronger boundaries is the number one way for most women to improve their lives. Here she shows you how to stand up for yourself! Set personal boundaries and free yourself from the “disease to please” with these three steps!
Step One: Self Awareness
The first step in learning to set boundaries is self-awareness. For example, pay close attention to the situations when you lose energy, feel a knot in your stomach, or want to cry. Identifying where you need more space, self-respect, energy or personal power is the first step.
Another way to identify your boundaries is by completing these three sentences with at least 10 examples.
People may not ___________.
I have a right to ask for ____________.
To protect my time and energy, it’s OK to _________________.
Step Two: Setting Your Boundaries
Start setting simple but firm boundaries with a graceful or neutral tone. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but as you take care of yourself, the personal power you gain will make it easier.
Be sure to have support in place before and after each conversation. If you can’t find support from a friend or family member, you may be successful finding a friend online.
Vent any strong emotions with your partner before having your boundary conversation.
Use simple, direct language.
To set a boundary with an angry person:“You may not yell at me. If you continue, I’ll have to leave the room.”
To set a boundary with personal phone calls at work:“I’ve decided to take all personal calls in the evening in order to get my work done. I will need to call you later.”
To say no to extra commitments:“Although this organization is important to me, I need to decline your request for volunteer help in order to honor my family’s needs.”
To set a boundary with someone who is critical:“It’s not okay with me that you comment on my weight. I’d like to ask you to stop.”
To buy yourself time when making tough decisions:“I’ll have to sleep on it, I have a policy of not making decisions right away.”
To back out of a commitment:“I know I agreed to head up our fundraising efforts, but after reviewing my schedule, I now realize that I won’t be able to give it my best attention. I’d like to help find a replacement by the end of next week.
To set a boundary with an adult child who borrows money:“I won’t be lending you money anymore. I love you and you need to take responsibility for yourself.”
When setting boundaries, there is no need to defend, debate, or over-explain your feelings. Be firm, gracious and direct. When faced with resistance, repeat your statement or request.
Back up your boundary with action. Stay strong. If you give in, you invite people to ignore your needs.
Step Three: Strengthen Your Internal Boundaries
One of the reasons that women take things personally is because they have weak “internal boundaries.” An internal boundary is like an invisible shield that prevents you from taking in a comment without checking it out first. For example, when someone accuses you of being arrogant, stop and consider the statement before taking it in.
When you use this internal shield, especially with difficult people like an ex-spouse or critical parent, it gives you time to ask yourself the following three questions:
How much of this is true about me?
How much of this is about the other person?
What do I need to do (if anything) to regain my personal power or stand up for myself?
This last question is very important. Too often women neglect to stand up for themselves by avoiding confrontation and end up weakening their internal shield, making it harder to set boundaries at all. So, if someone offends you, it may be necessary to let them know in order to protect and strengthen your internal boundaries.