Setting Boundaries

The only people who get upset about you having boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.
— Louise Hay

How many times have you heard the importance of setting strong boundaries for yourself and yet you're still resisting? Or, perhaps you've set some boundaries only to have people cross the line repeatedly.

Are you ready to set boundaries for yourself or do you believe that they are selfish? Pay attention to your answer and be honest with yourself. If it's yes, then skip down and I'll share a great formula with you to set and hold boundaries for yourself. 

If you answered no, then congratulations for being honest with yourself. Let's spend some time delving into this further. I love the quote above from Louise Hay. How does it feel to you that you when you refuse to set boundaries because you don't want to upset someone means they are benefiting from you? Simply put, they are using you. To be even more dramatic, they are draining your power. Does this change your mind about setting boundaries for yourself?

If your answer is still no, that's okay. Are you concerned about how other people (or a specific person) will feel if you set up some boundaries for yourself? Perhaps you're worried about making them mad. If the other person has been using you and draining your power for years, then, of course, they won't like it and they may not react well the first time. Here's the thing, they know that they are using you. Of course, it's not something that they will admit to readily, deep down, they know they are using you. Often their reaction is because you've changed the terms of the relationship and they don't like it. Their reaction is because you've finally stood up for yourself. Reasonable people will calm down quickly and come around to your needs. Unreasonable people may decide to go and find someone else to use. It's your decision now if you want this unreasonable person in your life.

If you are still deciding the answer is no, then I have one more thought for you. Do you enjoy having drama in your life? If you do, then the best way to keep the drama going is to not set boundaries. When you set strong and clear boundaries with communication, the drama will disappear. 

When you're ready to set strong boundaries and honour yourself, here's how to do it.

1. When someone asks you for your time or your money or your energy, the first and most important step is to realize you have a choice of answering either yes or no. People can only take from you that which you give.

If you've decided no, then tell them. Remember, "no" is a complete sentence. There is no need to explain. If you decide you do want to give a few more words, then just tell them that your focus and priorities are elsewhere and as such, the answer is no. Make sure you don't apologize, there is no need to say sorry.

2. If you've decided you want to give to them, then you need to ask yourself if you have it to give. If you don't have the time or money or energy, then you will say no. 

If you have the time, money and/or energy, then you can provide the terms of how you want to give to them. Ask yourself what you want to do and how you want to give.

For example, if you own a pickup truck and someone is asking to borrow it to move, then you let them know that they can borrow the truck on a certain day at a certain time and that it must be returned with a full tank of gas by a certain time. Reasonable people will agree to these terms. People who were hoping to use it for as long as they wanted and use your gas will be annoyed. Do you want these people in your life anyway?

3. Now it's time to outline the consequences. This is where I find so many people have the most difficult time. If someone has asked you for a favour, then they will treat your time, money and energy just like you will, right? Nope, that's not always the case. They may have other challenges and commitments to deal with and they know that you're always so accommodating, you may be the lesser of their two evils. So, make sure you objectively set up reasonable consequences if they do not honour their commitment to you. 

Going back to the example above, you would let them know that if they don't fill up the tank with gas or there is damage to the truck, you will not lend them anything ever again. 

4. Here's the really important part. You MUST stick to the consequences. If they don't honour your boundaries, then you must hold the line. This is where I observe people waffling. If you waffle here, then you'll find setting boundaries a challenge every time. 

The first time you set a boundary is the most difficult. It becomes easier and easier every time you do it.

Start with an easy boundary and work your way up. You can do this. Your life will change for the better. 

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