Many women often feel that it’s difficult to learn to care for ourselves as much as we care for others. Especially if we feel uncomfortable or guilty saying “no.”
We may fear losing someone or something if we set limits on how much time we can give or work we can handle or if we claim space for ourselves. But always giving in to the requests or demands of others is plowing a field where resentments take seed.
And failing to assert our needs and wants or to stand up for ourselves is disregarding our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Far from being selfish and mean, setting boundaries is a healthy act of self-respect.
Take a few minutes to find out how well constructed your boundaries are. For each statement answer if it is true or not true for you.
1. I start statements with “I” rather than “you” or “we.” This lets me own what I say and is less defensive than “you,” and more clean than “we.”
2. My boundaries are specific and clear: “I don’t accept phone calls after 10 p.m.,” rather than the vague and mushy: “Don’t call me too late.”
3. I’m consistent when I create boundaries. If I say “no phone calls after 10 p.m.,” I don’t make exceptions unless the situation is exceptional.
4. When people attempt to cross my boundaries, I don’t assume the worst (they don’t care, they weren’t paying attention, they’re selfish and inconsiderate); I simply restate my position.
5. As soon as I realize I’m in a situation that might be headed for trouble, I announce my boundary: “I won’t continue talking with you if you raise your voice at me.”
6. I try to avoid situations and people where I know my boundaries will be continually tested.
7. I don’t take responsibility for how others respond to my boundaries. If someone feels resentment because I didn’t wait when she was twenty minutes late for our appointment, I don’t try to make it okay for her.
8. I respect others’ boundaries and ask for clarification when I’m not certain of limits. “May I talk to you about business after hours?”
9. When people refuse to respect my boundaries, I walk away rather than get into a situation that could escalate. I say why I’m leaving.
10. I let people know when I have reconsidered a boundary. “It used to be okay for you to be late, but now…”
11. I believe that everyone has to create his or her own boundaries. What’s okay for me might not work for someone else.
If you answered true to fewer than 6 of these questions, you might need some help with boundaries.
Taking a firm stand might be difficult at first. But by being calm, clear and direct—and without intentionally stepping on anybody’s toes—you can learn how to set boundaries and create the kind of balance in your life that honors your own needs and wants.
Boundaries held firm can help make life easier, reduce conflict and improve relationships.
One of the best ways for being firm is by increasing your confidence. I have a special gift for you this week to get you started.