I’m loving your responses to my “How To Set Clear Firm Healthy Boundaries Without Feeling Guilty” series… and I want to give you the rest of the puzzle pieces a lot sooner so you can finally put the steps together and be empowered to design a new life in which you get your needs met and release the guilt and fear that has been keeping you captive in unhealthy relationships, friendships, partnerships and situations.
The practice of setting boundaries can be strong in one area of our lives, loose in others, and non-existent in another. We struggle in different areas in life and there are stages in our life when we are going through hardship, transition, or transformation, in which we will respond differently.
It’s been interesting to learn through your comments how some of you feel confident sharing boundaries with people you love and uncomfortable with non-relatives or outsiders, while some of you can set an acquaintance straight but feel uneasy when it comes to the ones close to you.
I am committed to providing you with tips and tools that can help you in any area of your life and in any setting so you can take charge and experience the freedom you deserve and desire.
We’ve explored the first 3 steps of my 5 steps to setting a boundary: see it, study it, say it, share it, and seek support. Today’s step is the real deal: the actual action of setting a boundary. Oh yeah!
Guidelines To Follow When You’re Having The Boundaries Conversation
I’m going to share 5 simple guidelines to follow so you can be more effective when you’re having the boundaries conversation with someone.
Ask the person when/if it’s a good time to talk so they can be focused and present with you. The last thing you want to do is set a boundary when someone seems busy or distracted.
Use simple and direct language, and use a calm neutral tone. You want to make sure you communicate clearly, without blame, and showing respect. Think of the Golden Rule. Do make sure your statement or request has been understood, and repeat as needed.
Resist the urge to defend, debate, or over-explain. NO is a complete sentence. There is absolutely no need to justify, apologize for, or rationalize the boundary you are setting. This is something I used to do all the time and I encourage you to remove “I’m sorry, but…” from your vocab ASAP.
When you face resistance, recite one of your boundary affirmations, one that connects you with your why and the outcome you want to achieve with your boundary to put things in perspective. [For example, “I’ll have more time for the people and activities that matter most to me.“]
Let go of the outcome. You are only responsible for your behavior and just as you chose to set the boundary, the recipient can choose to act, react, and interact as s/he pleases because of it.
There was a particular relationship I experienced in which I was a slave of my partner’s approval.
I was a pleasaholic pretzel… twisting myself to become what he wanted me to be and completely losing myself in the process. And the truth is… no matter how hard I tried (because this was indeed hard, as it wasn’t my true self), I never did feel genuinely loved by him.
I was clingy, needy, and insecure ALL THE TIME. It was exhausting! When I finally mustered the courage to have the boundaries conversation, he chose to leave and I’m happy I willingly let him go.
I think we go into all boundary conversations hoping the person will choose to respect our limits, understand, and work with us to comply. Otherwise, we wouldn’t bother going through such an intense and seemingly confrontational process.
However, many will judge your motives, resent your new-found strength, or choose to distance themselves. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their mindset. People who belong in your life will cheer you up as you make healthy changes and set healthy limits.
If after having the boundaries conversation, you experience less than or the opposite outcome you desired, trust that it is in your best interest: life happens for you… not TO you.
Fear wants to get in the way of your joy, and as you become unattached from what you think it’s best in that moment, you will be closer to the life you truly want.
I can say that I cried for a few days over the “failed” relationship; however, the freedom of being myself and following my own path was definitely worth it. I’m so happy we could both be free to pursue a better fit.
[Tweet “Life doesn’t happen TO you, it happens FOR you! #mindsetformoms #thepositivemom #positivethinking”]
I like Byron Katie’s quote that reads: “We don’t attach to people or things; we attach to uninvestigated concepts of what we believe is true at the moment.” And that’s exactly why we need 3 steps before actually having the boundary conversation. The truth sets us free to do so successfully.
Speaking of which… just how do we share the boundary in the most succinct and effective manner? There’s a specific formula I learned a few years ago that has definitely worked for me when I’ve used it.
I do believe I don’t use it enough, but you know what… I’ve made and I’m making a lot of progress – so YAY ME! Here it is:
When you [the specific behavior you decided is not okay with you ~ i.e. “raise your voice,” “lie,” “touch my leg,” “criticize my work,” etc. ]
I feel [the exact reaction, emotions, and feelings ~ i.e. “uncomfortable,” “violated,” “frustrated,” etc.] This is really hard because it is vulnerable, but it’s key to use I statements, especially in difficult conversations.
I need [the ideal you want to experience ~ i.e. “to feel respected,” “to experience a peaceful relationship,” “clear communication,” etc.]
If you [the reiterated unacceptable behavior in a clear manner ~ i.e. “touch my leg again,” “yell and scream,” “are dishonest,” etc.]
I will [the step(s) you will take to protect your boundary ~ i.e. “leave the room,” “hang up the phone,” “end the relationship,” etc.]. It is impossible to set boundaries without setting consequences.
[Tweet “5-step formula to a boundary conversation: “When you /I feel /I need /If you /I will…” Learn more! #mindsetformoms #boundaries”]
Sometimes we feel that establishing a consequence may sound “mean” or “rude” or even “threatening,” and for me, it is still the place where I second guess myself and experience guilt and self-doubt.
What helps me most is to remember that, only 100% of the time, a person that has use of all their mental faculties has control over their actions and, only 100% of the time, I have 0% of control over their actions, so the responsibility lies within them.
If you are thinking “easier said than done,” you are correct. As moms, we may struggle with different issues, yet we all struggle; and it is from our trials that our testimonies are birthed.
As we set healthy boundaries, we can have a better life experience, be more patient, positive, productive, and present with our families and our connection with God will be stronger than ever because setting boundaries is godly!
Are you willing to try my boundaries conversation formula? I’d love to hear your experiences in setting boundaries in the comment box below. Virtual hug!