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How to Set Boundaries

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Setting boundaries in life is how we respect ourselves, our time, body, energy, resources, and how we respect others around us.

How do you feel about setting boundaries?

Was there a little bit of a 'gulp' and fear energy coming in there for you?

I hear you!

I definitely didn't have the strongest boundaries once upon a time. Even now, it's something I need to remind myself about.

Why do we struggle to set boundaries, especially as women?

Because we love to give, nurture, provide, love... so much so that we OVER give, and end up feeling like we aren't being respected, or appreciated.

Setting boundaries often means that we are drawing a line in the sand and almost going against our natural urge to always say YES, by saying NO.

The trick is knowing WHEN to say NO. And how to do it in a way that still feels heart-centered and respectful to them, as well as ourselves.

No wonder so many of us struggle with how to set boundaries - it feels a little scary to realize it requires us to speak up.

Based on the work I do with women in Guidance Coaching, through my Online Women's Circles, and during our Bali Retreats, I want to give you a clear way to think about how to set boundaries.

What is a boundary?

What we are talking about here when it comes to setting boundaries is being able to say yes, or no. Expressing what you will accept, and what you will not.

Using your communication and your actions to let others know HOW it feels ok for you to be interacted with.

It's about what you will and will not tolerate in the actions of others.

Where do we need to set boundaries in our life? - At work (between co-workers, in your workload from your boss, in your time and energy that you give to your professional life).

- At home (with spouse, family, children in how they relate to you through their words, actions, and what you do for/with them).

- In other relationships (friendships, acquaintances).

Ultimately, boundaries give us more space, time, and energy to show up fully to our roles and relationships in a way that feels consistent for the long term, as well as aligned with our values and our worldview in a holistic sense.

Now let's look at how YOU can bring boundaries into your life.

#1: Where do you need boundaries?

This is about first becoming clear about WHERE in your life you need to set boundaries.

How do you know if you need them?

The following are indications that you need to speak up and shift something:

  • You feel like people are 'using you' (personally or professionally)

  • You are resenting a person in your life, or a situation that you are in

  • You feel like people keep on 'taking' from you, more than they are 'giving'

  • You are exhausted at the end of the day after taking care of everyone else, but you, and have no more energy left for self-care

  • You feel small, powerless and locked into a situation/relationship dynamic.

Yes to any of the above?

There's something there for you then, to look at in order to create more harmony.

#2: What do you need?

So to get to that state of harmony, you need to be clear now what balance would actually look like? What do you need in that situation in order to feel good?

Here's an example:

You feel resentful at your friend who always seems to never pay for anything. You feel that it's not balanced and that you are being used financially.

Where do you need boundaries?

In this relationship with the friend specifically, it comes down to money. You need to create a boundary around who will pay in speaking up when you feel that it doesn't feel equal. That can be by saying 'I've gotten the last few meals, how about you pay this time?' or it can even mean that rather than wait for the situation to come up again, you sit down with your friend to express that something needs to change when it comes to paying for things.

How to express without getting into a confrontation? More on that later.

#3: What are you afraid of?

Now, let's look at WHY you aren't already setting boundaries in these areas.

Why have you allowed it to get to a point of feeling this unease, imbalance, tension?

Know that you can only set boundaries from a place of being in your power; taking your power back.

If you are in a state where you feel like it's the other person or situation's fault, then you are giving your power away to them, and will not be able to move out of your stuck state to set the boundaries. This requires you to OWN your part in feeling small by feeling how you are allowing the feeling small to take place!

This is about releasing the victim within and stepping into your full power. I actually have a meditation on this! If you'd like me to send you the meditation as a gift for FREE, contact me here!

It's about asking the right question.

So when you are clear on your specific areas that you feel stuck and small, ask yourself - what am I afraid will happen if I were to speak up?

Get to know your fears. That's how you can start to take back your power. If the story stays 'they are making me feel this way' then you are giving them the power over how you feel.

Rather than, I have allowed myself to be affected by this. Ok - so that's not a lovely feeling at first to admit to allowing yourself to be small. BUT what is lovely is that if you recognize that YOU allowed it to happen, you can also notice that YOU can 'unallow' it - YOU CAN SPEAK UP - you have that power.

From that place of power, there is so much less fear around setting boundaries. The fear comes from the following thoughts:

- They won't like me anymore

- What if they don't honor the boundaries?

So we are afraid of perhaps 'losing' people, through them not accepting us.

AND we are afraid of our boundaries being rejected and not accepted.

BUT here's the thing - if we are in our truth, speaking up for ourselves, respecting ourselves and setting boundaries, if we do lose people, then we have just created space for other people to enter into our lives that are more aligned, respectful, and a match for who we are. When it comes to work, you may have the experience of setting a boundary, and having that more 'negative' response from another person. - your co-worker for example - but you can then ask yourself, 'why do I NEED them to like me?'

In other words, we release the attachment to how others think of us by taking back our power and not putting the power of us feeling good about ourselves in the perceptions of other people's judgment (which, by the way, we can never really know anyway).

#4: How to set the boundary

If you are ‘flakey’ in your boundaries and not really clear - saying to the coworker who is giving you extra work where you can't handle it:

‘I’d rather that you don’t give me extra work but if it’s just a little, that’s ok, it’s just hard for me to keep doing yours as well as mine…’

This is a very passive way to TRY to set boundaries, without actually doing it.

It is still keeping you small, and actually not setting any clear boundaries.

We do this because we are afraid of being seen as ‘hard’, or if we have a tendency to be a people pleaser, we feel that we may not be liked anymore.

Sacrificing your self-respect and feeling of peace and spaciousness in order to ‘please’ others is like saying to yourself, ‘them being pleased is worth more than me pleasing me.’

You are putting your own self-worth down. You are not respecting you, and also expressing to the other person that you are to be respected.

If you want to be respected, you need to show others how to respect you, by respecting yourself.

So how to set the boundary?

  1. Practice - start small: say 'no' to something that feels not super hard to say no to, but that you might sometimes say yes out of obligation.

  2. From the steps above, get clear on where you need them and why you need them - that WHY keeps you accountable to yourself to actually set the boundary, even when it doesn't feel so easy.

  3. Know that it is difficult, at first, but ultimately, incredibly rewarding to say YES to you. The more you do it, and feel that self-honoring, the more you will find it easier to set boundaries.

When I started to really work on being more outspoken, confident in myself, and not caring about people's judgment, my insecurities melted away. That's not to say I don't have any insecurities - because there are for sure still some there that I am working with - but I am saying that insecurities don't stop me anymore from saying yes to me, and no to what does not feel right.

Building confidence takes accountability to yourself and dedication to show up and change your state of being. If you are used to being not confident, then that patterned way of being feels 'natural' even if it is not natural to who you are.

Everyone has the right to feel more confident, and everyone can.

Lots of love and strength for you to set those boundaries!

xx Shae

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