Empowering Yourself: How to Set Healthy Boundaries

November 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Boundaries are powerful tools that give you freedom to live the life YOU want! Image courtesy Wikimedia.org.

Are you constantly kicking yourself for taking on too much?

Do you keep saying Yes to things you really do not want do?

Do you often feel guilty for saying No?

Do you always feel exhausted?

If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, here are a few tips on how to set boundaries that will energize you and help you to live your life on your terms.

#1 Figure out your top priorities-or your YES list

Right now take out a piece of paper and make a list of things that are most important to you in your life right now. What brings you the most joy? What gives you energy? What have you most wanted to do but are always moving to the “back burner”? What needs your attention most right now? What do you need to take care of yourself right now? (hint: this should be #1 on your list!)

Now look closely and decide which ones are your top priorities for the next 3 to 6 months. Come up with your TOP 5—or your YES list. Your YES list will help you to say no and let go of the things that are not serving you best right now. Print them out and post them on your calendar, your desk, next to your phone, anywhere you can see them to help you make a very clear-cut decision when a request is made of your time or talents. If it’s not on your Yes list than the answer is NO.

#2 Face and Overcome the Guilt

Anytime you make a change in your life, chances are you will be met with some resistance from those around you. Don’t let that fire up your guilt sensors or make you feel the need to defend your choice. You have the right to choose how you spend your time and control the way you live. As I have built up my “boundary setting muscles” and recovering from the “disease to please” it has helped me to come up with some “stock responses” when I am asked to do something that does not fit into my YES list. A few of them are:

  • Sorry, it’s just not possible for me to do that right now”
  • Thanks for thinking of me, but I will need to decline”

To validate how well this short and to the point method works. I had a colleague say to me “Wow you CAN say no” and then she became more judicious in requests she made of me and had more respect for my time. And what a revelation to me of how I was being perceived! Create your own “stock responses” so you can be less reactive and feel more in control.

#3 Stop Getting Mad and Speak Up

If there are no limits to what people can ask of you, you will constantly feel “under attack”. Over time you will feel resentment, anger and always on guard. Setting boundaries will actually enhance your relationships by helping you to be more open and honest with people. It’s ok to tell others what is acceptable and not acceptable for you. Your authentic self will begin to shine through and ultimately you can begin creating relationships that have mutual respect.

#4 Find Like-Minded Support

Find people who seem to have mastered this skill that you respect and ask for their support. Tell them you would love to hear how they have become so successful at this and can they share some tips. Also, find another person you know that is aspiring to do the same and “buddy-coach” each other to help keep your momentum.

Getting Family Support–Sometimes setting boundaries with family members or those closest to us are the hardest of all. They are used to you doing certain things in a certain way for them that are extremely beneficial to them and the thought of that not occurring scares them. One way to get the family support is to sit down together and create a Family YES list where everyone has some input. It is also good to reinforce to them you cannot take care of them without taking care of yourself first. What a great way for you to model and teach others how to set healthy boundaries for themselves.

#5 Keep Building those Boundaries High and Wide for continued “De-stressing”

I have a friend and fellow coach who said to me (as I was feeling very overwhelmed and questioning my boundary setting abilities) “You need to build those boundaries HIGH and WIDE!” And she was right. To build long lasting boundaries that have the most impact in our life we need to do it in a big way. WE ultimately have the power to define what and who are most important to us. We also have the right to honor how we choose to spend our time to so we can live the most fulfilling life we can. The more you get comfortable setting high and wide boundaries the more calm, focused and in-control you will feel.

Remember Boundaries are not meant to close you in but provide FREEDOM. When you say NO to one thing, it allows you say YES to something you really, really want.

Lisa Dolce is a certified coach and trainer who empowers women to unleash their potential to create successful careers and small businesses.

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