I think this will be the final installment on boundaries specifically, but I’m pretty passionate about boundary setting so the topic will for sure get layered into future e-blog-mail-newsletters. As I mentioned before, the most important part of boundary setting is believing that your voice matters, the next most important part is compassionate communication. This week we will focus on the delivery and enforcement of boundaries.
DELIVERING A BOUNDARY
- Be vulnerable.
- Your willingness to be vulnerable shows that this means something to you and allows for the other person to be less defensive. You may have heard that energy meets like energy, well if you set a boundary with angst then chances are you will be met with defensiveness.
- An example of this would be, “Hey, this is really difficult for me and I appreciate you so much, I need to set a boundary around (insert boundary), (insert reason why it is important).
- Assume positive intentions.
- It is so easy to get wrapped up in thinking the other person is rude, disrespectful, or only looking out for themselves, especially when we feel hurt or wronged. Without even realizing it we’ve assumed negativity in the other person, but imagine how different you would feel if you assumed positivity or ignorance in the other person. (Sidenote: ignorance has a bad wrap, it is simply lacking knowledge or awareness around something and how could someone be aware of your needs if you haven’t expressed them.)
- Delivering a boundary with assumed positivity would look like, “I’m sure you were just trying to help but I really prefer (insert boundary), (insert reason why it is important). Thank you for understanding.”
- Be specific.
- Vague boundary setting is nothing more than wishful thinking. We are leaving our boundaries up for interpretation and not at all teaching others how we want to be treated. Kevin Hart has this really funny joke about telling his son to stop running around and go to sleep. His kid literally stops running, stands in place, and closes his eyes. Clearly, he meant “go to bed,” but that isn’t what he said specifically. Being direct and specific is how you will support yourself, enable others to support you, and feel a greater sense of joy and connection in your life.
- VAGUE: I will not accept a lack of intimacy in my relationship. (Delivered with frustration.)
- SPECIFIC: I feel intimately connected when we have deep and meaningful conversations. Having a date night a week without our phones would heighten my sense of feeling valued and loved. (Delivered with the desire to be more intimate with your partner.)
- So you figured out where a boundary is needed, you delivered it with compassionate communication, and now peace & love is restored…right? WRONG. Chances are you will need to reinforce this boundary. Here’s the deal, either the boundary is new or the reinforcement is new so it will take some time for each person to get with the program.
- An example is, “hey, I know this is a new request but…” Again, try not to assume the worst, they may just be on autopilot with certain behaviors or statements and it isn’t intentional. Give this person grace as they learn a new way of honoring you.
- Be prepared to mean what you say.
- It will be up to you how many times you are willing to remind someone of the boundary and what the next course of action will be. If they are repeat offenders and you are fed up, you could respectfully inform them that if it happens again, the relationship dynamics will change. If it happens again, change the dynamics of the relationship.
I know this may sound silly, but write out what you want to say, practice it, rehearse it. If you missed an opportunity to set a boundary, hit your journal pages and write out a do-over. As I mentioned before, our subconscious believes what we think and say, so if you are rehearsing boundary-setting your subconscious mind starts to believe that you are a badass that stands up for yourself, respectfully. Which is so much more empowering than standing in the shower rehearsing what you’ll tell that bitch Sheila next time you see her at work (…and then you don’t and start to think you are a doormat.) Then your subconscious mind (which is where your deeply held beliefs are) starts to believe that you are a negative, angry, inauthentic, and cowardly.
Are you starting to see how boundary setting and self-esteem are connected and how self-abandonment is what fuels your inner shit-talker? Start small and set boundaries within yourself first. Honoring your needs and listening to your inner voice is a great place to start with boundary work. YOU are so worth having boundaries and those around you want to love you in ways that lift you up, boundary-setting creates the environment for them to do just that!