Creating Boundaries

Boundaries. Wow, that word invokes some tension for me.

The word itself, how we use it, came to be in the early 1700’s, and the meaning then isn’t far off of in how we use it today.

“bound”; Limit, or boundary
“ary”; connected with the man engaged in

So, the literal meaning is to “limit the connection with man/person”.

“That which indicates the limits of anything”.

To set a boundary with another person isn’t actually that hard. I mean, it’s ‘hey, stop treating me like a pushover, and stop calling me names behind my back or to my face. If you continue to do that, we can’t be friends’. Sounds easy right? Sure, typing it into my computer is easy. Saying the words to people who mean something to us. Different story. Let’s dig in.

In my experience, boundary setting can be very hard. It is often with people who have been doing things out of alignment for years. And these people can be close to you, they can be your friends, family, clients, colleagues. And when you start to set boundaries, it can come as a complete shock to them.

Setting boundaries can look different for everyone. Sometimes it’s standing up for yourself, or not putting yourself in a certain situation. Any way it looks, it takes courage and strength to start saying ‘hey, stop doing that, and stop treating me that way’.

The thing that we don’t always talk about is how no boundaries, or loose boundaries can limit how you show up in the world. For your family, and for your career. You are so focused on how other people are going to act and respond, you forget to live you own life. Letting people know how to treat you so that the best version of you shows up, well, I’d say that’s just smart living.

There are a couple of things that you can do to make setting boundaries a bit more successful.

Be really clear on what the boundary is, and what it looks like. Clearly lay out what is ok, and what is not ok. Here’s an example: “It’s ok to not agree with my sales process. It’s not ok to trash talk me to everyone at work behind my back”.

So the boundary isn’t that someone disagrees with you, it’s how they respond to you.

Here’s another one, “It’s ok to change your mind on something we agreed on. It’s not ok to do it and not speak to me about it.”

This one will sting a bit if the person is used to you not saying anything or challenging how they act. Please remember that it’s ok to stand up for yourself, and you won’t have to do this too many times before people understand you are making changes.

Set boundaries because you love yourself as much (or more) as the other person. This is simply a reminder when it gets hard. The hard boundaries can take more time because the pushback might sting a bit.

Here’s an example of that:

“You let your kids spend too much time on their phone. They need to be more active”. And your response could look something like “It’s ok to care about my kids. It’s not ok to take my place as a parent.” This is you loving you and continuing to love the person who needs the boundary.

In the long run, life will run much smoother when boundaries are set, and people understand how you are going to allow yourself to be treated. Let me clarify, it will run smoother for YOU because you will be in alignment with yourself. And that’s the person you need to take care of the most.

Donita Fowler

Coach + Creator
Manage your emotions and you can navigate challenges with a balanced perspective.