I wish I could tell you that I am perfect at setting personal boundaries with others, but alas–as with diet and exercise–I am a work in progress. Boundaries are tricky and sometimes they are hardest to set and maintain with our closest loved ones, family members and friends. Nevertheless, I try to be mindful of boundaries and communicate my needs to others.
Here is what I do know: if you want to have the best life possible it is your responsibility to communicate your boundaries to others and hold them accountable for respecting those boundaries. One of my best friends when talking about boundaries says, “I failed all of my mind-reading classes.” In other words, if we do not share our feelings about boundaries with others, they have no tangible way of knowing what we need and want.
The first step in setting boundaries is identifying what you need. What do others do that bothers you? What do others not do that bothers you? Make a list of relationships and situations that you wish were different and the behaviors therein that you feel need modification. The second step is figuring out how to communicate your needs. Using “I statements” is helpful with this step. For example, in the previous example of the boss and “nickname calling” you could say: “I feel different and uncomfortable when you use that nickname because no one else in the company has a nickname like that.” Using “I statements” takes mindfulness and practice. A seasoned counselor can help you learn and implement this positive communication skill.
In closing, I have to share one of the best pieces of boundary advice I have been given to date. Years ago, I found myself in a hectic and stressful season of life. I was burning the candle at both ends, working around the clock and approaching burnout. I was a little younger and still exploring how to set boundaries with my closest friends and family members without hurting feelings or coming off as rude. A dear friend of mine noticed I was going down fast, took me aside and gently said this: “Tell your loved ones what you cannot do during this life season.” This was profound to me as I was usually telling everyone what I would do. I mapped out in my mind my weekly responsibilities and the time involved in each one. Then I identified a few things I needed to let go of—at least for a season. I communicated my needs to my loved ones and immediately felt relief and peace. It sounds simple, but I needed the support and advice of a trusted friend to accomplish this task.
How about you? Are you having a difficult time identifying or implementing boundaries in your personal or professional life. A trained and seasoned therapist can help you identify and implement your personal boundaries so that you can feel heard and experience peace in your daily routine. If you need help with boundaries, relationships or any other mental health problem, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment. Call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to speak with a licensed therapist.