How to Start Creating Better Boundaries

Jul 25, 2018 | Mental Health, Self Care

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So today I want to talk about boundaries (how ironic that I write this while I’m at work , on lunch of course).

This has been a struggle for me my whole life and until now I had no idea what boundaries were and I still struggle with the fact that when I set boundaries it doesn’t make me rude or a bad person.

I learned I had boundary issues when I realized that my schedule was not by my design but by the design of others and their demands.

When I really looked at my schedule and saw how many things I was doing because I wanted to or because I enjoyed them guess how many items in a week I saw? Yup, you guessed it, none.

That’s so sad to read and write out loud.

You see I’m a people pleaser at heart and that tends to make me put myself last more times than not.

I do this simply because I don’t like letting people down.

I think that people look up to me and see me as someone who is reliable, not a bad thing I actually love being the dependable friend, but you have got to learn how to put your needs first and understand that anything that is given to others (your time, your generosity, your dependability) is a gift and you owe people nothing(sounds harsh but true).

You are only your own responsibility and realize that everyone else is secondary.

So.. I’m off my soapbox. Let’s get into some simple ways you can start creating better boundaries in your life.

Learn to Say No 

 

Now, this can be a whole post itself, but I’m going to talk briefly about it here because it is the biggest way to begin to start implementing better boundaries.

When someone asks me to do something I usually just look at my schedule if there’s nothing scheduled at that time, the time’s all theirs!

Then the day of I look and wonder why I committed to it. Then I get pissed because I don’t like to break commitments.

My schedule is filled with a week full of stuff that I put in just to fill time.

I didn’t think about how long it would take for me to get from one event to the next(like a realistic time frame) or the fact that I may be tired after one and wouldn’t want to go to the next.

I just saw an open slot and penciled the person in( ps. do not do this). This causes so much unnecessary stress. So you can see where my bad boundaries began.

Instead of doing this I recommend asking yourself if this creating any value to your life?

For example, are you learning from this? Is this making you money, bringing you joy or making you a better person?

If the answer is no then you better believe that the answer to them is no as well.

Well, Tiffany, they’ll be pissed and banish me from their life forever! I assure you this will not happen and if it does do you really want this person in your life?

People may be taken back by your response at first but that’s something you have no control over, you have to do what is best for you.

I’m horrible at saying no myself so it’s sometimes easier to have a script in mind. A simple “Thanks for the invite, I’m not available” or “Thanks so much for thinking of me but I’ll have to pass” will do.

I’ve learned that flat out just saying no or saying that I’m going to say no doesn’t quite work for me.

Figure out what works best for you.

Let me tell you something- its ok to say yes to yourself while saying no to others. Because when you do say yes you are also saying no to your time that you will be sacrificing to please others.

Determine What’s Acceptable and What’s Not

 

This maybe should have been point number one. But boundaries are what you will and will not allow. So you really have to decide how and what is acceptable for you and it’s a completely individual process.

One thing that might not bother someone else may bother you and vice versa. Your boundary is that line in the sand that says it is not ok for you to cross this line. Before you begin to implement boundaries you have to know what yours are.

Examples? Why yes. So some people I know like to talk in the mornings and so do I, sometimes. And I have friends who like to call in the evenings.

But despite this, I don’t like talking on the phone all day. Yes, I want to talk to my friends and family but maybe not at 6 am or 4:01 as I’m stepping out of the office.

So my boundary- no calls before 7:30 am or before 5 pm. This gives me enough time to prepare for the day in the mornings and relax for a moment before I get off.

Or on a more serious note, maybe you prefer not to talk about your sex life with your mother, don’t want to disclose how much you make to that nosy co-worker or you don’t like how someone talks to you.

You have to advocate for yourself, it’s ok to say, “No I prefer not to talk about that” or “ I will not tolerate you speaking to me this way it makes me feel X”.

The Backlash 

 

Now that you know what boundaries are and how to say no, lets talk about the resistance you will get from others who will not respect your new boundaries.

There will be people in your life who will reject your boundaries and won’t respect the lines you are trying to draw or won’t take you seriously.

Now, I’m not saying these people are bad people or that they will intentionally not respect your boundaries, but if you’re anything like me some people will be completely thrown off by this new behavior and won’t really understand what’s going on.

So needless to say there will be people who will still call you at 3 am even though it’s a workday and continue to pressure you to get that salary out of you.

But my friend this is a process, you are re-teaching people how to treat you and what is ok with you. And unless you are consistent they will never learn.

You have to stay strong! Giving into to people just teaches them that you will let up under pressure so that they can get their way. I know, I know it is sometimes easier to keep the peace (o did I mention people may become defensive to this, sorry) and just say yes or let others do what they want to do.

People will not always be happy about your new behavior or boundaries but I want to remind you to stay the course!

This doesn’t have to be some big grand thing, you don’t have to get angry, defensive or explain yourself just calmly explain that they’ve gone too far.

People will eventually change their behavior if they see you are serious and if they don’t you have to decide if this is a healthy relationship for you. Be consistent! This will teach you a lot about the people in your life as well, by the way.

 

This is just the basics of creating better boundaries. I swear by putting your needs first it will become a life changer.

This isn’t to say that you completely neglect or distance yourself from your friends and family but rather an understanding that your needs are important.

And it’s your job to take care of yourself. I would love to hear your stories about how you are creating better boundaries in your life.