Boundary work, like all self-work, requires full embracement to heal us. It can begin with an awareness of our limits. Limits are the knowing of what you will and won’t accept in your life. Limits come from the knowing and backing-up of who you truly are. Below is an example of identifying limits—your limits will be unique to you and your experience.
I will no longer accept:
- interactions where my body or emotions feel violated without making a decision that honours me
- individuals taking care of aspects of my life uninvited
- people who lie, manipulate or manoeuvre
- emotionally irresponsible people who refuse to take responsibility for their own problems
- men who are disrespectful/ abusive towards women
- my lax behaviour towards myself and my safety when I have been drinking alcohol
In the next section, you have the opportunity to create your own list of your personal limits. By doing this you are making a personal pledge to yourself.
THIS IS MY PERSONAL PLEDGE TO MYSELF
The things I will no longer accept in my life:
I will know when my limits are being stretched, because I will feel, notice and experience:
What I will do to protect myself from further harm:
The allies I will need to support me (internal strengths, external people, places or things):
Now you know your limits, you can begin putting them into practice. Be gentle with yourself—change takes time! I once read that it can take one month for every year you’ve had a problem, to resolve it. So if we apply this to setting boundaries for example, you may have been letting your mother have too much influence in your life since you’ve become an adult. And as you are now 30 and you left home at 18, that’s 12 years of your boundaries being breached. Therefore, the formula states that it could take 12 months for you to feel as though you have a sense of mastery over setting boundaries with your mother. Now I don’t think this is scientifically true, but sometimes it helps you to be patient with yourself. Below is the 5-step process, which can help you to get clear and determined about setting your boundaries:
The 5-Step Process of Setting Boundaries
1. Be prepared to observe and feel the feeling without reacting. This is the creation of the „gap‟ in order to not revert to previous reactions and previous wounds. Then you are capable of dealing with the issue in a mature and an empowered space in the present moment. Take time out if you need to. Get clear about whether this is a past feeling or a present experience. Breathing is such a great tool that can be used to calm the flow of thoughts and emotions creating space of clarity. Taking some physical time out may be essential so you don’t react in a way that you could later find disappointing. Even taking a quick trip to the „loo‟ may give you enough breathing space to notice your feelings, identify them, decide where they are coming from and what you want to do about them.
2. Realise that no-one else is responsible for fixing your unhelpful feelings. It’s your job. This is an essential part of the steps that keeps you connected to your own power. If you have been unsuccessful in setting and maintaining boundaries in the past you might need some extra support with this step.
3. Connect to who you are (remember your limits) and what’s important to you on the matter. Be prepared to calmly and clearly state your boundaries. BE COURAGEOUS! State your expectations as an I‟ statement, not a „You‟ statement. For example: I feel uncomfortable about doing that, so the answer is no, rather than saying, I can’t believe you’d expect me to do that. This incorporates assertiveness with self-responsibility an empowering combination. When we are empowered within ourselves other people find us more attractive. Have you noticed this?
4. Detach from an individual or group which validates your feelings. If you are reliant on another person for validating your feelings and understanding your point of view, your emotions and mental state will be dictated by this person. This is a self-sabotaging and disempowering way to live. Kick it to the curb!
5. Detach from the idea of a particular outcome being created with that person or that situation. This is true identity assertion. It means you are aware that you have the power to create your own boundaries and state your needs clearly even if you don’t get the desired outcome. You will not be driven by fear regardless of what circumstances life throws at you. This is the philosophy of aligning yourself with durable long-lasting results. This grants you ultimate freedom, because you no longer give in to quick-fix solutions that don’t stand the test of time.
You now have the tools to set your personal boundaries and if certain situations and people aren’t matching your expectations, they will either adjust their behaviour or re-evaluate their relationship with you. But what you can be sure of is that your life will fill with relationships and people who appreciate and respect you.
You and you alone are the creator of your own reality. And this reality is created by your boundaries. I wish you every success in creating the life and relationships you deserve. Please see the services listed above if you require further assistance with setting your boundaries.
“We change our behaviour when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”