Blog Short #101: Setting Boundaries – Part 2
Photo by Kostikova, Courtesy of iStock Photo
This blog is Part 2 of our work on learning how to set boundaries. If you didn’t read Part 1, it would be good to go back and read it first by clicking here.
Briefly, we covered signs that indicate you need to work on setting boundaries and the myths that hold you hostage and keep you from doing it.
Today we’ll continue with strategies you can use to decide what boundaries to set and how, and then talk about how to maintain them.
Let’s dive in!
Before we start, it’s good to recognize that setting boundaries is more challenging with family and friends. That’s only natural because your involvement is deeper, and your ingrained behavior patterns are more likely to show up in your interactions with those you’re closer to. Keep that in mind as we go through the strategies.
Strategy #1 – Setting expectations
This strategy sets the stage for all the others. Take some time and review people or situations you think need some boundary-setting. Write out how you would like things to be different from how they are now. List your expectations of those involved, including yourself. Doing this will help you identify where you feel taken advantage of or are giving too much of yourself. Be specific and realistic.
Strategy #2 – Set time-related boundaries.
Now that you’ve defined some expectations, review your time. If you have more to do than you have time, the only solution is to shrink down what you have to do or farm some of it out to other people. Strategies that help with time are as follows.
Delegate. You don’t have to do it all. Delegating requires letting go of the need to control everything and checking your guilt when asking for help.
If you have a partner, review the workload and reshuffle tasks to even things out, so you both participate. Work as a team, and check in with each other weekly to adjust as needed.
If you have kids, give them more responsibilities and chores. They should see themselves as part of the family team and learn to contribute based on their ages and capabilities.
If your job takes up 60 hours instead of 40, talk to your boss and see if you can whittle down the hours.
Schedule all your activities on a calendar, including time for family, friends, and yourself. It helps to see it visually. Then track it until you have a good handle on where your time goes.
Extracurriculars. Resign from your role as entertainment director. If you have kids, allow them time to self-entertain, deal with boredom, and use their imaginations (without Youtube, TikTok, or social media). Let them choose only one extra-curricular activity at a time, so you limit the time spent toting them to and from activities.
Other commitments. Don’t agree to any new commitment for at least 24 hours after being asked. Give yourself time to evaluate how it will affect your overall schedule. Pick and choose what you want to do, and say no to the rest. Say this mantra to yourself: “I’m not the only person who can take this on. Someone else could do it.”
Strategy #3 – Set digital boundaries.
Review these three activities that can eat up a lot of your time.
- Texting. Don’t feel you need to answer texts right away, especially chat texts. Let people know when you’re unavailable for texts except for emergencies. People will learn and acclimate to your boundaries.
- Social media. The best practice is to hold yourself to no more than 30 minutes daily on social media. Try it. If you do that, you’ll have lots more time. You’ll also not get lured into comparing yourself with others, trying to make people happy, and getting stirred up by negative posts.
- Emails. If you have a job, make it a rule not to respond to after-hours emails. If you have a job that requires you to respond to emails in the evening, discuss it with your boss and see if you can’t set that boundary. We live in a 24-hour access world, so you have to get diligent about not allowing that access during the hours you need for you and your family.
Strategy #4 – Set self-related boundaries.
These are the boundaries you need to set with yourself. By doing so, it will be easier to stick with the others.
Accept responsibility for being taken advantage of. You undoubtedly have good intentions by going the extra mile to help everyone. However, you are the only one that can stop the onslaught. Allow people to be responsible for themselves.
When you’re not sure if you should offer your help, ask yourself if the person in question:
- Has your best interest at heart.
- Is shirking their responsibilities by relying on you
- Is expecting too much.
You’re not helping if you’re enabling someone to take advantage and avoid their responsibilities.
Carve out some time for yourself. Do this even if it’s just 30 minutes per day. Figure out where you can squeeze that time in and how best to use it to nurture yourself. Then schedule it and stick with it.
Ask for help when needed without overstepping someone else’s boundaries. Don’t be a one-person show. If you’re a parent, check into carpooling or exchanging babysitting. If you can afford it, hire a cleaning service for your home. Even once a month is a huge help. Take some time and assess where you might get some help and what you can offer in exchange.
Say no! Saying no is more than setting a boundary; it requires revamping your identity. It means seeing yourself as deserving of respect, consideration, and appreciation for what you contribute. It’s being a team player and allowing others to do their part. Most importantly, it means letting go of unfounded guilt because you can’t be all things to all people. You can use all your wonderful talents without being exploited or taken advantage of. You do that by choosing when, how, and under what circumstances. Draw the line when offering help is done at your expense. It should be win-win, not win-sacrifice.
Just because you set a boundary doesn’t mean others will uphold it. Here’s how to get around that.
Spell them out clearly. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind or wait for them to recognize when they’re overstepping. Let people know what you expect and where the line is. People capable of healthy relationships will appreciate this and honor your boundaries.
Restate it when tested. Some people will push the boundary to see if you mean it. This might happen because someone’s used to you being available whenever they need you, but it can also occur because they want things to remain as they were. A friend who’s used to taking advantage of you won’t like the change and will likely test it to see if you’ll stick with it. Setting boundaries can result in losing friends who weren’t good friends to begin with. Know this upfront and accept it. It’s in your best interest.
Be firm but not rigid. When you set a boundary, it’s good to stick with it until it’s easy to keep and others know it without thinking about it. However, sometimes you stretch a boundary just that once because it feels like the right thing to do. Be firm yet flexible when the situation calls for it. Just make sure that your flexibility isn’t a relapse but a well-thought-out decision.
If you’re not used to setting boundaries or have avoided it, it might feel uncomfortable for a while. Likely it will. Start slow. Choose easy ones first and establish them before moving toward bigger ones.
Remember that setting boundaries is a shift in your identity, which requires a shift in how people see you. That’s why it’s good to go slow and allow everyone to keep up.
Let me know how it goes. Leave a comment or email me. I’m always open to questions.
That’s all for today.
Have a great weekend!
All my best,
P.S. – Suggested reading: Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab