Knowing and communicating your boundaries might never be more important than right now. 2020 has proved to be a year no one expected, to put it mildly. With global pandemic and lockdowns we are even more forced to deal with our relationships. That might be a wonderful thing for some of us, or a really stressful one for others. Ok, who am I kidding? It is somewhat stressful for all of us, since it is a collective schock we are dealing with and that affects everyone on some level, as well as our relationships with others… But, if we know and communicate our boundaries, our relationships have a better chance in thriving. Why?
Boundaries are fundamental for our relationships. If we truly want to have nourishing and fulfilling relationships where everyone involved is equal to another, the boundaries lesson is the one to learn. Boundaries are there to protect our wellbeing and by communicating them with others, we are showing them what we like and dislike, what we are tolerating and what is unacceptable to us. It’s like we are giving instructions to the ones around us on how to deal with us.
In order for us to be able to say no with confidence and without feeling guilty about it, there is a journey ahead of us. What do I mean by a journey? Before we become a queen or king of boundaries we have to face our fears, know our values and therefore know what we like and dislike, be confident and courageous, know our emotions and be friends with our body, dare to be authentic and honest with ourselves and others, and most importantly learn to communicate and express ourselves. It is definitely a journey worth embarking on since our lives and relationships become much more joyful, nourishing, and prosperous.
Let’s start with facing our fears. Underneath not saying no often lies fear of not being loved or accepted by others. We might fear that we will hurt others, if we won’t be available to them all the time. What if we will be seen as selfish, if we stand up for ourselves? It is important for us to realise our fears and consciously decide we are not going to be led by them. People that know and communicate their boundaries tend to be more respected by others. Who doesn’t like people that know what they want and where they want to go? As well healthy relationships are the ones where everyone involved knows, communicates her/his boundaries and respects the ones from another person. We are the only ones that know how exactly we feel and what we need in our lives at any given moment. Well, it takes a little bit of practice to be in tune with ourselves again, but there is no doubt everyone can do it. It is our duty to take care of ourselves, by acknowledging ourselves and then setting boundaries to what doesn’t serve us – be it people, behaviours or events to name just some of them.
Here are 3 essential tips for setting boundaries:
- Come to terms with your limits and know the extent of your capacity.
There is no point in going beyond your limits to please others. In the long term you are only hurting yourself and when you’re feeling drained, you are not able to give much to others as well. Take care of your wellbeing first, this will benefit you and others.
- Communicate how you feel.
I cannot stress enough how important communication is. You will be surprised how understanding people are, when you are willing to be vulnerable. It takes some courage and discomfort, but it is totally worth it.
- You have the right to say NO. Don’t do anything you don’t want to.
This could easily be everybody’s daily reminder. You are allowed to live your life as you want to. Or as James Altucher puts it: “When you say yes to something you don’t want to do, here is the result: You hate what you are doing. You resent the person who asked you, and you hurt yourself.”
Remember, you are not selfish for setting your boundaries. They are a necessity for the wellbeing of you and the people around you. Start with small steps, boundaries are like a muscle, the more you practice, the easier it gets.
Tjasa Strle is a Boundaries & Communication Expert and Employee Caretaker.
She is empowering individuals and teams to first acknowledge and then start setting healthy boundaries in order for their relationships to thrive, as well as to be more motivated, efficient and satisfied at work.
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