Creating a life where we live on our own terms is a reality we all want to jump into, am I right? Yet for many of us, we struggle with simple little things from saying no to clearly asking for what we want or even speaking up when we know something is not right.
Setting boundaries is a way for us to gain more personal space, time, energy and things we want. We can place boundaries in all areas of our life with family, friends, partners to work colleagues and more.
The reason why we want to set and maintain our boundaries is that it improves our confidence and gives us greater self-esteem, a better living environment, and total independence.
Yet the majority of us still don’t follow through on each of the steps required to take action on setting clear boundaries.
I am going to walk you through the six steps I take to set boundaries, these have come with practice, patience and a lot of trial and error. However they have enabled me to live a life where I feel free, I’m surrounded by people who are supporting the work I do and I can say a firm NO without feeling guilty.
Here you go..
Six steps to maintain and set boundaries
STEP 1: Understand your limits
Clearly outline what your personal boundaries are, your values, and any gut feelings that you have where you know need addressing. Understanding your limits helps you to see what potential boundaries may need to be implemented. Many of our current boundaries that we have in place are often a result of outside influences like family routines, relationships, life experience, culture or a label we may have placed on ourself. Step one is about laying all cards on the table – what you do and don’t find acceptable.
STEP 2: Awareness
Is a current situation just rubbing you the wrong way, do you have a gut feeling about something that is not right? Not all situations are so easily read and awareness is a skill that is developed over time, it takes practice for us to see when someone is crossing our personal boundaries. Pausing before reacting, doing or talking is a great way to check-in with yourself and to ask – Am I okay with this? This step is to really honour the moment where you can pause and get a greater sense of what you need to do.
STEP 3: Conjuring up Courage
Before action is taken many of us need to rustle up our courage. In the pause of awareness, we get the opportunity to see what is not sitting right. Step three is about observing the situation and making the best decision to move forward that we know is right for us. Once we are solid about our decision we can acknowledge that we chose us and can channel that energy of self-respect into courage. You may like to take a big deep breath before acting, visualise a positive outcome, connect to your spirit essence or simply recite a few I AM affirmations.
STEP 4: Being Assertive
It’s showtime! You have two options here and the first is to simply say NO. No on it’s own is a complete sentence you do not have to start rolling out excuses or a story because you simply don’t want to do something. No is totally fine. The second is to speak up on the matter and once again being direct is important – ask clearly for what it is you want or what you noticed and use I statements.
NOTE: I statements are ones that start with I feel/am_________________ when/because ______ etc. They are really powerful – give them a try.
STEP 5: Pause
Alright, now to the tricky bit. So, you have said NO, defended, stated, asked assertively. Now, take a big breath because you deserve it. This is the time to wait for a response from the other person/s in the situation to respond to what you have shared. Don’t feel like you need to fill the gap with words. I can’t stress how important it is to wait for a response and sometimes a two second gap will feel like a minute depending on what you have said. But please wait for it, you might be surprised at the outcome.
STEP 6: Give yourself some love
Kudos for you for setting a clear boundary. It takes a lot of courage to set them but also to keep them in place. When you reach this stage you deserve to do a little happy dance for your effort, it’s absolutely worth celebrating your achievement big or small. This little act of love for yourself is what helps you maintain your boundaries, re-affirming to self makes it easier to share with others. The more you love on yourself for being strong and courageous the easier it becomes to set more boundaries in your life.
FINALLY – I recommend you start small. If saying NO is hard, then practice that first as a whole sentence, or perhaps you need to set some boundaries with your partner and the kids because you want to do a few hours of work without interruptions. Tackle the small things voice what it is you need or want and focus on how it can support you.
I would love to know how you are going with setting your own boundaries. What areas in your life are first to tackle?