The #1 personality trait that most people lack is healthy boundaries.
It’s always fun when I begin with a new client, and I say with a big smile, “Now we’re going to talk about the ‘B’ word.” I watch as their eyes widen, and a look of curiosity comes over their face as they wonder what I will say next.
I tell them it’s BOUNDARIES! We’re going to talk about healthy boundaries. We both have a good laugh as we begin the journey.
Why are boundaries important? Because if you lack healthy boundaries, you’re most likely putting your health at risk and compromising in other areas of your life, including your career, finances, and relationships. You’re sacrificing your happiness for someone else’s.
Let’s begin by looking at poor boundaries. It’s that uncomfortable moment when someone asks for something, and your inner voice says no, but your conscious mind says, I can’t say no.
Healthy boundaries are about finding ways to say no when it’s in your best interest.
So how do we develop healthy boundaries? It starts by defining your values. Most of us want to be a good person–a kind, compassionate, helpful person. We want to make this world a better place. And that’s all good!
But, when we lack healthy boundaries, we end up exhausting ourselves or compromising our values to fulfill the needs and wants of others. Doing for others makes us feel good in the short term. But often, the long-term result is diminished time and energy for our own needs.
What do healthy boundaries look like? They differ from person to person. You’ll have to decide what is best for you and those with whom you interact.
Healthy boundaries go far beyond personal relationships. They’re for all relationships, including your interactions at work and in public venues.
Once you’ve decided what healthy boundaries look like, start implementing them slowly. It’s impractical for any of us to suddenly show up with a new set of boundaries and expect others to fall in line immediately. Give people time to adjust to the new you.
As our relationships develop, we teach people how to treat us. And they teach us how to treat them, creating the dynamics of our relationship. This training happens over time and often changes and morphs. When we decide to begin doing things differently, we need to reteach people how to treat us. Give them time to learn what behaviors are acceptable.
Decide how long you will give people to adapt to the new you. Some relationships may not tolerate these changes. Make no mistake. Some people may refuse to adapt, and those relationships might need to end. Although it may seem challenging, it’s appropriate and healthy to put limits on unhealthy relationships.
If you are familiar with my personal story of overcoming chronic illness caused by years of abuse, you know I talk about “loving from afar.” This is useful for those who continue to cross your boundaries. It is okay to end those relationships and continue to love that person. You can forgive them, but you don’t have to let them through your front door or take their calls any longer. Choose to love them for who they are and the journey they are navigating. And send them love from afar.
Instead of healthy boundaries meaning being forced to say yes or no, try exploring other options. Is there someone else you feel is better equipped to handle the situation? If yes, then suggest that. Or ask if there’s a compromise. This way, you can avoid saying no, but you’re still honoring your boundaries.
Sometimes, a firm no is necessary. As one of my clients puts it when it comes to family and work drama, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” It was impressive how quickly this client began implementing new boundaries. And they continue to impress me as they take the necessary steps to shape their life how they want it. Now they have more peace and happiness and a greater sense of control over their life. And you can do it too!
I challenge you to set aside as little as a half-hour to think about where you might be able to improve on your boundaries. Ask yourself, “What is it that ‘I’ want and need?”
Do this first. Once you have those answers, develop your new boundaries, then implement them. You, too, will begin to live a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life!
Do you feel like you need help establishing healthy boundaries? Request your complimentary Discovery Session by clicking this link. Let’s talk and see what it will take to meet your goals.