“No. Is a complete sentence.” Anne Lamott
This week we’re talking about boundaries and the need to set them.
Establishing what people can and cannot do or say to you (or in your presence) is incredibly healthy for any individual.
Setting these emotional boundaries is useful as they establish baselines of acceptable behaviour in your world. They also tell the people that come across your path what you are prepared to accept and not.
That way, when you are building relationships, people know upfront how you expect to be treated. More importantly, in this way, you proclaim your self-respect, and it helps to establish the mutual respect so crucial to building successful long-term relationships.
The benefit of clearly communicating boundaries is that it helps people to avoid unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships.
One way to figure out if those around you are aware of and respect your boundaries is the presence of people who leave you physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained after you’ve interacted with them.
These people tend to expect you to drop everything and jump into whatever drama is playing out in their lives at the time, with no consideration for you or whatever is happening in your life. They can be inconsiderate, unpredictable, unreliable, and passive aggressive. They do it time and again, without ever offering to reciprocate the time and effort you invest. They are often close friends or family members, and dealing with them can be challenging (to say the least).
The first step towards establishing boundaries is realising that some behaviour is inappropriate, and the second is communicating it. Both can be hard, as this may have been happening to you all your life. You see it as the norm, plus the people concerned are master manipulators. Just know that putting boundaries in place is essential to your emotional health and mental well-being.
A wonderful way to deal with such people is to plan a kind but firm strategy in advance. For example, if you have a friend who resists all efforts to nail down a time for something like a Friday lunch, communicate the plans you’d like to include them in, but also provide a firm deadline by which you expect to hear from them. Tell them that your plans will proceed without them. And then stick to your guns, and do what you said you would.
These people are sometimes known as “energy vampires”, and they will likely push back against your boundaries or ignore them entirely. In that situation, it’s up to you to continue communicating clearly and to stand your ground. One of two things will happen: they will give in and begin to respect your boundaries, or they will drift away from you – and both outcomes are good for you.
Lastly, know that you have every right to establish boundaries. Not only are they essential for strong mental health, but they will also help weed presences from your life that aren’t contributing positively to your well-being. And that’s a huge win.
If you need help to put boundaries in place or if you need to learn how to communicate them effectively please don’t hesitate to reach out. I have various coaching packages for individuals and organisations based on your needs and requirements.
If you do not respect and honor yourself by putting boundaries in place, no one else is going to either.