Updated: May 29, 2020
Setting boundaries is how we take the power back! We look at the situation that happened, we accept everything that happen. It is hard because you have to accept all the emotions whether it is hate, anger, humiliation, embarrassment, sadness you have to accept it. You are a human and feeling these emotions means that you are like everyone else on the planet, there are no exceptions…You have to accept that you felt this way. Also you have to acknowledge how your body reacted because your mind and body are connected, your thoughts, your emotions, all working together with our bodies. Again, like it or not you are human and nothing you can do can change that.
After you accept all this, you have to be honest with what happened and our reactions. You have to go through the situation and then say yes! This happened, now it is over, I am stronger because I survived. Once you have done this you are ready to set a boundary so you do not allow that situation from the past to hurt you or control you, it may happen again in your future and you will be ready for it. In doing so you close that situation; you have learned from it, you take pride in the fact that you have changed this experience into a learning opportunity. You can now set a boundary so it will not happen again.
When you set your boundary, it will feel uncomfortable at first because it is something new to you and for so long you felt more comfortable letting this situation control you because you knew what it did and how you felt. Believe it or not you accept the pain that went along with it. But now when you set the boundary to stop this situation, you will see the positive results instantly.
The new emotions and feelings will far out weigh the old ones in wonder full ways. The new feelings will be pride, because you took the step to not get hurt anymore. Happiness because you will not feel the same way anymore. You will not allow it to have the power it once had over you. You will elevate yourself esteem because you are now standing up for yourself and you feel so good about it.
Over the last 6 years I have had to use radical acceptance and I have had to set big boundaries in all area’s of my life. Whether it was at work, in my personal life, in my professional life as an author and public speaker.
When I set theses boundaries, I always look at each situation, I carefully take notice of all my feelings I have, both emotional and physical, I look at the cold hard truth, and then say this has to stop for my own health and wellbeing.
A boundary that I set this summer was to stop booking so many signings on weekends because I was missing my family on Saturdays. I had to look at what I was doing and why I was doing it. Sure, I was out helping people, talking openly and doing what I love. But I was also working a 40 hour week and then adding an extra day to that work week. In the past I would have just said that is something I have to do to accomplish what I want to accomplish, I would have just kept doing what I was doing despite of how I truly felt and what my body, mind, and heart were telling me.
But now I looked at it differently, I decided that when summer came I wanted to be with my family, I want to swim, have fun. I wanted to enjoy my life, so I scaled back all my signings and only did half or less through the summer. I was scared at first because I wasn’t going to be doing what I thought was best for myself when it came to my books and helping people, if I wasn’t out doing my thing people would not be seeing me, I wouldn’t be talking with them and I would not be helping. But who is the most important person in my life? Me! if I was not happy then nothing else would fall into place. Setting this boundary allowed me to have one of the greatest summers ever with my family, it only happened because I choose to put up that boundary, and I stuck to it.
It was very hard at first because my mind was always drifting towards missing those signings and opportunities that I was passing on. But overtime it started to feel natural as I was replacing those opportunities with opportunities to enjoy my summer with my family and that was way more important than sitting in a book store!
How do learn to set boundaries? Where do we start? Below are the detailed steps I have used when setting a boundary in my life. It is always easy to just name a tool, to say we need to do something! But how do we learn to apply a tool like setting a boundary with out directions?
This event has had on effect on you. Now instead of allowing it to control you, name it and call it what it is. It can be one word, or it can be a sentence but you give it a name, a tittle, make it have meaning to you it deserves your attention. It has had an affect on you.
How are you feeling
look into yourself with honesty and see just how you are reacting to the event, the situation. How are you feeling about what happened? Make a list, write with honesty pulling no punches or feeling guilty for feeling the way you are feeling. Your emotions are yours and you feel them no matter what they are, they are yours, feel them and own them. How is your body reacting as well, it is all connected! Below is what it would look like.
You write what affect this event or situation is having on you
Time to think
Now you breath deep and you calm yourself down, once you are calm you will think about what happened and you ask yourself these questions.
1)Did this have a negative impact on me? (proof is written above) - YES
Has this happened before in my life? Is it a reoccurring event (answer with honesty here again the truth, the whole truth, be honest)-Yes
2)Do I enjoy feeling this way- No
3)Do I want this to happen again?- NO
These questions are your proof that a boundary needs to be set!
Make the change
Now think about how you can change your life so this doesn’t happen again. What can you do to change your life to make this thing or situation not occur again, or make it less impactful? What steps can you take to selfcare and feel good! What is your plan. You will write it out.
1) Write the title
2) Write out you plan
3) Write why you have chosen this plan
4) Write how you feel now that you have this plan
Put it into practice
Now that you have the plan do not bend or break. When this situation comes about again you now have away of dealing with it, you are now going to be ready and will not allow it to affect you in any of the ways it did before. You are putting the old ways, the old feelings in the past. You are letting go, you now have a solution to a problem you didn’t have before, and once you put it into practice you will see how good it makes you feel! It will get easier and easier to use this boundary over time! You now have it! That is a huge step! You made it yourself and it feels good!
Here is an example of a boundary I have set in my life
Title: Stop taking on more work then you can handle
How am I feeling: Overwhelmed, angry, trapped, hands shaking, talking to myself in a negative manner.
Time to think:
Every time I am asked to do extra work, more then what I normally do, I always say yes with out thinking or being honest with myself. I then regret it right away as I start feeling the pressure mount inside me and the negative emotions and feelings start to come to the surface.
Did this have a negative impact on me? – YES
Has this happened before in my life? Is it a reoccurring event-Yes
Do I enjoy feeling this way- No
Do I want this to happen again?- NO
From now on when ever I am asked to do extra work, I will hold off on saying yes. I will say let me get back to you. Then I will take the time to think on it. I will take the time to look at what I have going on and reason it out. I don’t mind doing extra work if it is possible for me to do it. But I am not going to be put in a position where I will be overwhelmed by what is being asked of me. I know from my past that it always has a negative impact on me.
Putting it into practice:
From now on when ever I am asked to do anything and my heart jumps a beat I will slow everything down and not say yes right away. I will always take a step back, calm myself and say “ Give me time to think about it, I will get back to you” This is all I will say and then I will take my time and not rush. This may be an hour, this may be a day but I will not put myself in any positions any more that I do not want to be in. If the person doesn’t like that I am taking the time to do this then they can move on and find someone else to do the job. I am no longer the yes man!
Setting boundaries is hard, it’s not easy to do. But once you set them and you stick to them you will build your confidence and feel the positive emotions as you apply them.
Setting boundaries makes life a lot easier. You learn to move forward and learn that saying no is sometimes the right thing to do! Not only that but it is the most honest and caring thing you can do for yourself. Believe it or not, setting a boundary is the greatest act of love and kindness you can show yourself, and the people in your life.