I want to talk boundaries. We haven’t talked boundaries for a while. So let’s talk boundaries.
My question to you is this, do you have boundaries, what are they, and do you regularly review them?
Setting boundaries not only safeguards our time, it is also a form of self-care, as it’s a way of preserving and taking care of ourselves.
So, I am genuinely intrigued, and let’s be honest, do you set boundaries, and do you regularly review them???.
If you have no boundaries, if you are constantly available for everybody, if you are always saying ‘yes’, if you’re constantly volunteering for things, what happens is things just creep, creep, and before you know it, you’re annoyed because you’ve agreed to do something which you really could do without, as you’ve got a whole load of other things on your plate at the same time.
The knock-on effect means our approach to day to day parenting, and all the other things wrapped up in that comes from a space of depleted energy, and resentment for yet another demand on our time – which serves absolutely no-one!!
If, on the other hand, we set boundaries, and our children see us implementing these boundaries, they are much more likely to do the same. Remember, children are much more likely to do what they see than what we say, and boundaries are crucial when it comes to their friendships, their self-care, and most importantly their resilience.
I’ve always been rubbish at setting boundaries. Certainly, when my children were younger, I was always the one who would volunteer, put their hand up to be on the PTA, always volunteering to run an event for the school, or helping with school pick-ups, or agreeing to….. well, just about anything!
No Boundaries whatsoever.
It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy all which I was agreeing to get involved in. I did enjoy them. I loved being part of something beyond my immediate family, and giving back, but actually, there were times when I should have said “I would really love to get involved but I already have too much on at the moment. Thank you for thinking of me”, instead of my usual “yes”. When we say yes when we really want to say no the knock-on effect is like falling dominoes leading to exhaustion, resentfulness, and there’s very little available for anyone else.
One of the single biggest reasons’ women are not so good about setting boundaries, and say yes more than they want to, is that we feel we should.
Men simply don’t have this problem!
Sorry to say it but as women, we are our own worst enemies, creating a rod for our own backs. We think being a good mum, a ‘got it all together woman’ means we should be doing certain things, behaving in a certain way, and juggling multiple things effortlessly, because surely that’s what every woman is doing, isn’t she??
So let me share with you some simple steps, easy hacks, and what I have learnt over the years about putting boundaries in place. Trust me, I’m a Doctor, and you’ll thank me for it later, I promise:
- Give yourself some breathing space
Saying I need to check my diary allows you to have some breathing space; it goes something along these lines “can I come back to you about that, I just need to check my diary?”. This gives you the breathing space to take a step back to look at the ask more pragmatically. This way you’re much less likely to commit to something you actually haven’t got time for.
It’s a really simple strategy, which doesn’t need too much practice to perfect.
We can’t keep expecting more of ourselves when we don’t give ourselves the time in the first place!
- Reframe your thinking
“I just don’t want to disappoint people”. I hear this all the time as the reason why we don’t say ‘no’ more and yet we forget we end up disappointing ourselves rather than disappointing others.
This is no way to take care of yourself!
Saying, “thank you for thinking of me but I just don’t have capacity” doesn’t mean people will think you are a horrible person. Quite the opposite!
People respect people with boundaries, and in many ways it reminds us we need to do the same. So reframe your internal dialogue, which tells you you’re disappointing people and replace it with a narrative which reminds you, you are persevering your energy to meet your needs and those of your family.
No is a complete sentence!!
- Realise boundaries are a muscle which needs flexing
Setting and implementing boundaries is a muscle, which we need to flex regularly. Take 20 minutes to have a look at what boundaries you have set? What are they? How clear are they? How consistently do you apply them? And actually, are they still serving you?
Now is a great time to do this particular exercise. I say this because we’ve had this period of time in some ways where our boundaries haven’t been tested in the usual ways. As we begin to do more and more things, which resemble our lives pre-Covid we have a real opportunity to examine what really matters to us. What do we want to do, rather than operating on autopilot, saying yes and making a commitment which we don’t really want any more.
Saying no may make you feel rubbish for a while, but I promise you it will be short lived, whilst the relief and freedom of time will last so much longer!!
The guilt is temporary
You need to set boundaries. You absolutely need to set boundaries. So start with just a few, become aware of what you are saying yes to and ask yourself each time “is this serving me?”. If the answer isn’t a Hell Yes, then your response should be a Hell No!!
Finally, if you say yes, but then change your mind. Is that okay, too? Yeah, absolutely!! You can always go back to someone and say, “I know I said I could help but I’ve now looked at my schedule, and there just isn’t a way that I can make this work”. Full stop!
This is why cancellation policies are there, we have a right to change our mind.