Every time we say ‘Yes’ to someone, we’re saying ‘No’ to something or someone else. This is why learning to set boundaries is important.
During a recent workshop, I was saddened when a lady revealed her inability to say ‘No’. She spoke of being someone who always gave in to the requests of others, even when at a cost to herself.
Now, just to be clear, I think sacrificial giving is good. But putting other people’s needs first doesn’t mean we should disregard or ignore our own.
But what was most unhealthy in this ladies case, was an admission to saying ‘Yes’ when she didn’t want to, wasn’t able to, or didn’t agree in principle, with what she was being asked to do.
Here was an example of the importance of learning to set boundaries. For this lady, not having boundaries, resulted in her not being true to herself – a struggle that many of us can face.
Boundaries protect you
Boundaries are the lines we set between ourselves and others. They protect us by helping others to understand what’s most important to us and how we want to be treated.
I work from home. So in addition to building a business, I invest energy into my marriage, family, and developing relationships in our local community.
Each requires energy, so it’s important that I learn to set boundaries and manage the opportunities and requests that come my way. But this isn’t always easy!
Why? Because when invited to be involved in a project or activity, I want to say ‘Yes’. And sadly, this hasn’t always been best for me or those I said ‘Yes’ to. On these occasions, good boundaries would’ve helped.
Now though, having experienced burnout, I’m more aware of the need for boundaries. So, here are four things I consider when setting mine that you too may find useful.
#1. Set boundaries to what’s important
Be clear on your values. By understanding what’s important to you, you’ll be able to make decisions based on what you want, rather than be guided by other people’s expectations.
#2. Set boundaries based on your self awareness
Be clear on who you are. And more importantly, on who you aren’t! Understanding yourself better equips you to make decisions based on what you can, cannot, or actually want to do.
#3. Set boundaries but be flexible
Rigidity can be as unhealthy as having no boundaries. We should keep open minded about the possibilities for growth and learning that new opportunities offer. Saying ‘No’ may prevent growth.
#4. Setting boundaries will result in some guilt
We can all feel guilty about saying ‘No’, so a sense of letting people down isn’t uncommon. Your boundaries will upset some and frustrate others, but sticking with them will be best for everyone in the end!
Considering your boundaries
Without boundaries the lines in our personal and professional relationships become blurred. And when blurred they become unhealthy and ineffective.
This is why it’s so important for us to consider where our boundaries should be. In setting and making them clear for ourselves and others, we protect our relationships and well-being.
Over to you
How clear are you on your boundaries? What would others say is most important to you? Where might you need to make some changes?
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