Do you have a hard time maintaining boundaries?Feb 16, 2022
If you’re reading this newsletter, I’m guessing you’ve had a hard time setting personal boundaries in the past. It’s OK, don’t feel ashamed, me too!
I wished there were two of me for years because I had such a hard time saying no to anything. But since there’s only one Kelley here, the tendency to do all the things, say yes to every opportunity, and never rock the boat left me exhausted and completely burnt out all the time.
I’m here today to tell you that while setting personal boundaries might feel scary, it’s possible. It CAN be possible to develop the practices, tools, and self-trust, and to honor yourself in a society that sets up many expectations and in a world of “shoulds.” Over the last decade, I’ve genuinely experienced peace on the other side of having boundaries, and my clients have too.
Not having personal boundaries can feel like you’re putting everyone else first, but the truth is, it’s a self-protective mechanism developed to try to control how we’re perceived. I know I never wanted to create or maintain boundaries in the past because I never wanted to disappoint anyone… I never wanted to make anyone mad at me. I never wanted anyone to think I couldn’t handle it all.
The biggest problem was that I was constantly disappointing myself in not disappointing anyone else.
So what’s your greatest fear of implementing boundaries?
These fears tell us WHY we don’t have them in the first place. When you’re so used to catering to everyone else’s needs, implementing a boundary will, of course, be scary. However, those that love and support you will applaud your efforts to live an authentic life. People who become defensive or angry more than likely are benefitting from you not having any boundaries, taking advantage, and feeling threatened by your newfound freedom. It may be time to evaluate and make changes to your support system.
Here are some pointers when you’re ready to start to implement boundaries
Take stock of your values.
What’s important to you? And what’s currently getting in the way of your priorities? Knowing this will allow you to create boundaries that feel right for you. Once you figure out your preferences and what types of people you want to be around, it becomes easier to say no to anything that doesn’t align with your life goals.
Think of boundaries as an outward expression of self-love. Communicate the boundaries with loving-kindness.
Create a mantra
Have something you say to yourself in challenging moments when you feel like someone is putting pressure on you or reacting negatively to your boundary. An empowering mantra posted somewhere you can see it often — on the bathroom mirror, as a background image on your phone — can act as a mini pep talk throughout each day. Things like “I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.” or “A “no” to them is a “yes” to me.”
Remember that you’re only responsible for the boundary, not the reaction others have to it
Don’t make a list of excuses
The more details you give, the more people can talk you out of your decisions, especially if they have poor boundaries. Keep your no’s as general and punctual as possible.
Sit with the discomfort
For most, a lack of boundaries is a way to mitigate the intense pain of rejection, judgment from others, feelings of abandonment, or a perfectionist feeling less-than-perfect. But if you learn to sit with those feelings, accept them, and breathe into them, they become less powerful over you.
You might find it helpful to practice or role play with a friend or a coach. Have them ask questions you can say no to.
This isn’t easy work. It’s challenging but so so rewarding. You don’t have to disappoint yourself because you’re afraid of disappointing everyone else. You don’t have to abandon what’s right for you just in case it makes someone else uncomfortable. You don’t have to neglect your personal needs because you want to make everyone else feel important.
This is a chance to tune in. To honor yourself. To grow.
There is a cost to neglecting and abandoning yourself, but it’s easy to get so wrapped up in what you ‘should’ do or say or be that you forget about the truth of who you are.
You are enough. You are loved. You are whole. You deserve to prioritize YOU. You can do that with loving boundaries.