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How To Set Clear Firm Healthy Boundaries [Step #2]

Empowering moms is one of the main aspects of my trifold mission. The dictionary defines empowerment as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” So while no human can empower another, I am committed to providing moms the perspectives, tools, and encouragement that help them empower themselves.

As women, especially women in my Latina heritage, we are often trained to give our power away, to live a life of disempowerment. This shows up in having loose boundaries, settling for less, and stunting our own growth.

I’m deep-diving into “How To Set Clear Firm Healthy Boundaries Without Feeling Guilty” because I know that a lack of healthy personal and professional boundaries has caused me and many of the moms I mentor to be burnt out, drained, and exhausted, with no focus, and dealing with much-undesired conflict, chaos, and drama… to say the least.

Even though it’s often difficult to set and sustain clear boundaries, these are skills we can develop. And as we get better at practicing these principles, we will BE empowered and the quality of our life will improve.

question your beliefs around setting boundaries

Remember my five steps to setting boundaries? See it, study it, say it, share it, and seek support. Today we are going to focus on the second step and examine why we must set boundaries even when we want to talk ourselves out of it (yeah, we do that sometimes). 

“Study It” is about questioning your beliefs around the boundary you want to set, so you can get yourself to set it.

STUDY IT: Question Your Beliefs Around The Boundary

Once upon a time, I felt like I was the only woman on earth who struggled with setting boundaries. It was the cause of much tension and anxiety for me because I had some beliefs that made boundaries scary… and WRONG.

It’s disrespectful to question and “talk back” (AKA object or express disagreement), especially when it comes to someone who has authority. Yep, I learned this one in my childhood and I had to learn it well if I wanted to “keep all my teeth.”

Good girls go along to get along. We are supposed to ALWAYS “lighten up,” “let it go,”  and “keep the peace.”

Putting yourself first is selfish. A little girl’s goal is to aspire to be the BEST wife and mother, and this means being submissive to her husband and putting her children first.

A good Christian offers the other cheek. You must avoid confrontation, conflict, and  – drum roll, please…: contention!

When you set limits, people feel uncomfortable and they distance themselves from you… and being alone is just about the worst thing to happen to a woman, especially when alone means unmarried!!!

These beliefs, and their numerous “buddies,” were holding meetings in my head and blocking freedom, peace, and joy from being present in my life. I got really tired of leasing space to these evil minions.

And soon I found out I was not alone. Most of the women I interact with have experienced some kind of shame and guilt around setting boundaries. That’s why, even after we tune into our feelings and know that someone is crossing a boundary, we would rather forgo the red flags, the discomfort, and all the cues… we rationalize and make it okay. We ration out lies.

And the truth shall make you free…

As children, we may have learned to respond to any situation in the way that causes us the least stress and trouble… and may have been guilted into being submissive:

  • Because I said so
  • It’s school policy
  • Do it for the sake of your marriage
  • What if you get fired?
  • “If you loved me, you would(n’t)…”

Doing [or not doing] something in spite of our wants and needs and doing what others expect – is often seen as a virtue, but it isn’t. A virtuous woman exercises her divine power to choose, and she makes choices out of love, not fear.

[Tweet “Virtuous women exercise their divine power to choose, making choices out of love, not fear. #elaynaquotes #mindsetformoms”]

Guilt, shame, and ingrained fears come from false beliefs about boundaries. To get past them, we must look from the perspective of the only proven antidotes: truth and love. We must study, question, examine our thoughts and beliefs!

For example, I once contemplated making a business deal with someone I considered a friend and she was a bit surprised that I wanted to draft a contract and put it in writing.

Her belief is that “if we are friends, there is no need for all of that.

I immediately went into pleasaholic mode and started rationing out lies to myself: I want her to trust me. I want her to know I trust her. I don’t want her to think I am not a true friend. Maybe this would ruin our friendship. Maybe I’ll die… just kidding.

But seriously, the committee of useless beliefs was hard at work in my head. And I told them to go away.

What was the truth? The truth IS that that contracts avoid misunderstandings, promote accountability, and increase the odds to success. Clarity and understanding are needed in a healthy friendship. 

The truth was that in order to preserve our friendship, we needed to take that step to protect it. 

After I explained the truth, with love, she was more than happy to go beyond signing… she wanted to draft it with me, too.

When you feel guilty, uncomfortable, or scared to set a boundary, examine what is at stake if you don’t. Use these five steps to create new beliefs that do serve you:

  1. What is dear to you?
  2. Why do you want to protect it?
  3. What could you protect it from?
  4. What would be the cost of NOT doing it?
  5. What are some steps you could take now?

Studying and writing down the answers to these questions will set a firm foundation on your boundaries because it means taking an honest, conscious look at what is true at your core. It becomes clear… and real.

For example, I’m currently mentoring a very talented mom who is highly committed to serving her clients. She was feeling guilty that she wasn’t really spending as much quality time with her family, which is very important to her. 

She was taking calls from her clients in the middle of dinner and texting til wee hours, which made her cranky the next day.

She told me her clients expected this and it was a requirement to stay competitive. As I guided her in challenging her belief, she admitted she had never really asked her clients how they felt. She just assumed this because of fear of losing her clients.

This lovely mompreneur also recognized that having that conversation with her clients was more than worth it to prevent being disconnected from her kids, feeling like a failure, and not being able to teach them the core values she wishes they live as adults.

As it turns out, her clients were okay with the limits and being family-oriented people themselves, they even expressed respect for her as she made that choice as a mom.

Of course, identifying how a lack of boundaries affects us is only half the battle. We are surrounded with external reasons (people, places, and positions) that challenge our desire to set healthy limits that support our well-being. As you travel along the journey of boundaries, remember to:

  • Give yourself permission to politely decline invitations, tasks, or “opportunities” people set before you.
  • Tell yourself “someone’s lack of planning is not my emergency” and differentiate the URGENT from the important.
  • Apply the Lycra rule: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
  • Recognize that a boundary is not a threat: it is communicating consequences for unacceptable behavior.
  • Acknowledge that you are not in control of the outcome – it’s not manipulation when the other person makes a conscious and informed choice.

As we learn to question our beliefs about boundaries and make decisions out of actual truth and facts, rather than out of pressure and pleasaholic feelings, we step into our power and access an enlarged capacity to make a positive impact in our families, our communities, and the world at large. An empowered mom raises empowered kids… and the ripple effect goes on.

Can you share some disempowering beliefs around boundaries that you know about? I invite you to join the conversation in the comments section below.

PS. This is the third post in my “Boundaries In Motherhood” series. Stay tuned!

Be Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna FernandBe Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOMez ~ The Positive MOM

My mission is to help moms find peace, break cycles, and feel whole so they can be present, peaceful, and positive moms. To receive a gift that can get you started on that journey click HERE.

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7 Things You Need To Let Go Of To Be Happier And More Positive In Life ★ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM ♥

Sunday 12th of January 2020

[…] my interactions and what I said Yes or No to during that time. I know sometimes it can be hard to set boundaries because we don’t seem like the “nice” (sacrificial) person we were trained to be, […]

Christine G

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

I really enjoyed this post as it resonates with me on so many levels. I absolutely agree with the Lycra Rule: Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Patty

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

Elayna: I think I have believed all the wrong things about boundaries and I have allowed myself to be coerced because "It is the right thing to do." Years ago, I began setting boundaries based on what God wanted me to do, and it was very freeing. I am still working on the boundaries with certain people. Eventually, I will have this boundary setting figured out.

Elisha Fernandez

Monday 12th of August 2019

Up until recently, I had the belief that I needed to turn the other cheek in order to be ‘Christlike’. I realize now that I can still have conflict and stand up for myself and be Christlike. It is very Christlike to do those things. I have learned to keep my distance from people, and even set boundaries with the people I love the most.

Rebecca Bryant

Monday 12th of August 2019

I was always told that saying no or setting boundaries especially when it came to family was being selfish. I spent many years taking care of my brother's kids for free because it was expected of me and when I would say I needed to get paid I was treated horribly. I began to be afraid to set boundaries and it has overflowed into my adult life and business. Set boundaries isnt' selfish or unkind it's necessary. I am learning this.