Do people often irritate and annoy you because they keep calling when you don’t want them to? When you see someone coming, do you want to run and hide? Do they interrupt your work-time with requests without regard for how it disrupts your concentration? Do you feel like family is using you or taking advantage of you all the time? Does it drive you crazy that your partner helps himself to your things, without asking? All of these situations indicate that you have clear boundaries in your head, but you’re missing some vital steps to setting boundaries in relationships in your life.
Avoiding conflict, the primary reason most people put off these conversations, is never a good basis for any relationship. I know it can feel risky to speak your truth and let whatever happens happen. Letting go and not controlling the outcome can be terrifying. Our minds automatically go to how much we can lose. In fact, our minds can amplify the negatives by thinking in terms of absolutes or all or nothing declarations – “If I tell him that, he’s going to think I’m too picky and won’t love me any more” or “If we disagree, it will lead to a fight and I’ll lose my friend/job.”
An unwillingness to “put skin in the game” cripples a relationship before it can begin. If a relationship is worth having, it’s worth giving your whole self to it.
It won’t work if you passive aggressively ignore a situation and hope it will fix itself. And you can’t rely on people “taking a hint”. People are not mind readers. If something is bothering you, and you just “grin and bear it” they’re going to assume everything’s okay. And that may lead to resentment, which can eat away at you until you explode. The other person stands there stunned, wondering “where did that come from?”! I like what F. Scott Fitzgerald said about this,
“If you spend your life sparing people’s feelings and feeding their vanity, you get so you can’t distinguish what should be respected in them.”
It is necessary to do more than setting personal boundaries in your head; it requires you clearly and respectfully communicate them to others, whether that’s a coworker, a friend, or a casual acquaintance.
However, in between setting boundaries and communicating them to others are a number of important internal steps to take before you have the emotional clarity, mental strength, and centeredness that is required to remove the agitation so you come from a place of inner peace.
Understand why it’s important for you to set a certain boundary. Being wishy washy or sending mixed signals will only frustrate you and the people around you. This means creating harmony between all of your Parts first. For example, Part of you may want to be respected, but another Part of you doesn’t think you deserve it. My Tea-Time Exercise is a great way to resolve these internal conflicts.
Remember, it’s not always about you. Successful communication takes time to really think about the person you want to clarify boundaries with: their personality, their background, your type of relationship, etc. This will guide in you in your approach.
When you’re setting boundaries, keep the mindset of improving your relationship, moving past the hard times and coming out stronger.
You may meet some resistance. Change is seldom easy for anyone. Patiently and kindly maintain your boundary and avoid taking the attitude that’s “it’s my way or the highway.” Remind them of why you need things to be different. When someone cares about you, they want to know how they’re hurting you, so they can make you feel good. Maintaining a boundary means not only sticking to what you say you’ll do, but also holding the other person accountable.
Learning Neuro Linguistic Programming is an excellent way to improve all the skills needed for setting boundaries in relationships. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s explore your options!