Good Fences – Setting Boundaries

So it’s all fine a good to talk about boundaries in the abstract, but at last we have arrived at an action step…Setting Boundaries.

As a reminder, setting boundaries is an essential part of maintaining healthy relationships and protecting your own mental health. Without boundaries, we will find ourselves feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and resentful. Let’s quickly discuss the pros and cons (a la Rory Gilmore) of having boundaries.

Cons -Lack of Boundaries
A lack of boundaries can have a significant impact on mental health and relationships. Without clear boundaries you may find it incredibly difficult to say no and set limits on your own time and energy. This inability to say no can lead to serious anxiety and in some cases can turn into feeling of worthlessness. So often we identify our value by how happy we make others and with a lack of boundaries we may please others for a time, but our own burn out will move in and take over and make it difficult to maintain our own health and health in relationships. Additionally, without boundaries you may find yourself doing what others need and spending less time on things you feel passionate about or want to explore with your creative energy.

Pros – Clear Boundaries
Identifying and setting clear boundaries can be really impactful to reducing your stress levels, improving your mental health, and creating space for creativity. These changes will build into feelings of empowerment and can give you a real sense of personal agency (meaning your capability to have ownership and influence over your own motives, behaviors, and possibilities). All of this good momentum can culminate in stronger and healthier relationships.

Please note…if you have narcissists, abusers, and sociopaths in your life, they will not be thrilled as you move towards a more boundaried life. But that’s okay…they need to GET OUT anyway!

Now what?
Identifying and setting boundaries can be a really challenging process for those who have never done it before. You will need to identify your needs, values, and limits which will start with understanding what is important to you and what is non-negotiable to your happiness. Once you’ve identified your boundaries, you will need to communicate and articulate them very clearly. You will need to use I statements and be specific in ways that perhaps you never have before.

It will feel scary…which is why you should (1) write them down, (2) share them with a supportive person, and (3) if possible, role play setting these boundaries with a trusted friend or coach.

There is no weakness in asking for help and practicing. This is truly a skill that get easier with practice and there is someone willing to help you…including me!

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