Recently, I collaborated with Univision on a segment on how to establish boundaries.
Yes, you have the right to have boundaries. No, this does not make you selfish, cold, or a bad person.
For a long time, I struggled with setting boundaries. Learning how to set boundaries with others was not something I was actively taught growing up. It is not a big part of the Dominican/Catholic culture, so it was also not something I was able to learn through observing others either. Actually, sacrifice is often a revered virtue that when misunderstood, can disempower the idea of establishing boundaries.
Not knowing how to set boundaries led me to have very few of them in place. The result of this was a lot of unnecessary and avoidable heartaches, disappointments, and frustrations.
I remember the first time I understood that I am entitled to have boundaries that protect my ability to perform, remain healthy, and be happy. I was explaining to someone how I felt a particular person kept on doing something I found disrespectful and inconsiderate over and over again. I explained how I not only found it to be incredibly annoying and frustrating, but that I also felt that my patience was running out and the next time it occurred, I was not going to be my best self!
The person calmly replied “It sounds like a boundaries issue to me”. “Figure out what your boundaries are and communicate them”. I was taken a bit by surprise. I could actually set boundaries with this person, which they had to follow if they wanted to be in relationship with me. Really? I could do that? I could tell someone how I wanted to engage with them?
Lots of learnings occurred as I took on the responsibility of creating the life that I want to live. I truly don’t want you to experience similar heartaches, disappointments and frustrations and hence my collaboration with Univision on this topic.
Here are the steps I now take when I need to establish boundaries with someone:
- Get clear
- I get clear on my self-worth. We have the right to be respected. Getting clear on this again gives me the inner strength to proceed with the steps that follow.
- I get clear on the future I am creating. I visualize what will happen if I choose not to establish boundaries…I see the frustrating circumstances leading to resentment building. Frustration and resentment are two very toxic emotions that in no way we want to cultivate.
- What limits am I actually seeking to establish? Sometimes we are fully aware that the present circumstances are not acceptable or sustainable, but we have not thought through was we actually want. Having a clear vision of how you would like to interact with someone, is foundational. If you don’t know what you want, how will you get it?
- You have to communicate your boundaries. I know this could be incredibly frightening, but it’s a must. No one is going to read your mind…ever.
- Don’t let your emotions get in the way of your communication. If you need to calm down before you speak with someone, then meditate. Meditate every day for days if you must, but make sure you are as composed as possible before your meditation. Below is a free guided meditation that will help you start a practice of deepen the one you may already have.
Share the experience you are having and the impact of the other person’s actions. If you do this in a healthy and authentic way, you may be surprised at how much the other person might empathize.
Make sure you communicate the boundaries you have identified…remember, people cannot read your mind!
Remember (and share on Facebook):
Once we get over our fear of communication, we may be concerned that the other person will not respect our boundaries. The reality is that unless we are dealing with an abusive person, most people will be willing to work to find a way to be in relationship with us. It’s actually an incredible experience when you see two human beings “dancing” in their effort to lead this incredible life.
I have found that when I have established boundaries that allow me to protect my health and happiness, I am able to give much more of my true and best self to others. And that is not something I am willing to compromise.
Do you know someone who would benefit from setting boundaries in their life? Share this article with them, or share it with your friends and family so they can also start creating the life they want to live.