Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits (Wikipedia).
There is value in setting boundaries, communicating them and remaining resolute in how you apply them. This is important in the context of our lives, goals and decisions where there are many competing priorities. These priorities compete for our time and resources to have them fulfilled.
Add to the mix the demands of others, and in most cases the unreasonable ones placed upon us. These may be demands that are important for the next person but not so important to you. I am not referring to incidents of lending a helping hand where you can, hence the emphasis on unreasonable.
If you have trouble sticking to what is important to you and change with each demand thrown at you, then your goals will not see the light of day. Unfortunately, many of us put our dreams in abeyance because we just lack the self-esteem to stand our ground. We compromise our identity in the process, living from the script written by others. That is the reason why we cannot reach our goals.
In my book, Face person in the mirror, I make a point that:
“Unfortunately for most of us live on the script written by others because we do not have our own identity. It becomes easy to fall into the morass because we want confirmation and acceptance from others. If we know what we want, we should be able to live on our own terms, however, if you do not know who you are and what you stand for then your friends and peers will create that script for you. …. by living on other people’s terms, you are sacrificing your boundaries and weakening your identity”.
It’s about how you teach people to treat you and by deciding what you will or will not accept. For example, I have set boundaries about whom I accept on my Facebook and whom I do not. This might seem a simple example, but it is connected to my strategic goals. I have old friends who have an issue about the fact that I decline their invites.
Here is the beauty about setting boundaries, you do not have to explain yourself.
This brings us to what I recommend about setting healthy boundaries:
#1. Know what is important to you: Know what matters the most to you. If not, anything presented to you will take priority.
#2. Learn to say no: Anne Lamott, the American novelist and non-fiction writer says that “NO is a complete sentence”. For some of us we just want to decorate NO with a lot of supporting evidence. We like to say YES when inside we are saying NO to ourselves.
#3. Remain resolute: Sometimes people will label you and give you names just to make you uncomfortable with the position you have taken. They will induce guilt, use manipulation and shame to get you where they want to take you. Kids are specialists in these areas; however, some adults have perfected the skill.
#4. Communicate your boundaries: In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. Take the leaf out of this book and make your boundaries known to those who need to know. Never assume the other person should ordinarily know.
#5. Do not make threats, act: If your boundaries are tested which will inevitably happen, avoid sending threats. It is about you and not the person who violates your boundaries. You probably have come across the words, “stop asking why they keep doing it and start asking why you keep allowing it”.
Healthy boundary setting is about self-care and taking care of your physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. You owe it to yourself to be at peace so that you can go for what is before you.
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Tex Hlalele is a Life & Business Coach, Consultant, Speaker and Author of the book Face the person in the mirror. Book Tex for coaching and speaking engagements to help you and your team gain insights and possibilities for individual learning and organizational advancement. Get in touch by sending an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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