How do I put up boundaries without being offensive?
If you’re feeling stressed and feel like you don’t have enough time for yourself, it’s time to work on putting up your boundaries. Boundaries are challenging to put in place because most people grow up in situations where there are no boundaries. It’s a daunting experience to go through because of the unknown of how others will view your decision to put yourself first.
One of the mental blocks you must first work to get past is you’re selfish for putting your wants and needs first. For the sake of this article, when I talk about boundaries, I am referring to gaining the confidence to say ‘no’ when you don’t feel like giving your time to someone else. It’s quite challenging because this is a way of life for the folks you’ve been giving your time to, and they don’t want the arrangements to change. I am here to tell you the arrangement must change if you’re going to live a happy, stress-free life.
Most of the clients I’ve worked with and the less evolved version of myself avoid putting up boundaries for fear of a major confrontation. I will admit the first few times I tried putting up a boundary, the recipient wasn’t happy and threw a tantrum because their life was suddenly inconvenienced. With practice, I learned how to implement boundaries without causing a major blow-up.
Here are a few ways to start building your boundary implementing muscle.
Implementing the boundary may not work the first time; however, practice makes progress. Remember you’ve created relationships predicated on you, giving you time away. It didn’t happen overnight. To get the people in your life used to using less of your time, start with spending less time on the phone with them. Perhaps avoid answering every time they call and don’t return texts immediately. Doing this will begin demonstrating that your time is precious, and they’ll start to use it more wisely when you give it. Remember, when you respect your time, others will respect your time.
Make it about you, not them.
Implementing a boundary by accusing the boundary crosser of disrespecting your time is not productive. The person you’re trying to create a boundary with will become defensive. For example, when a friend who expects you to accompany them everywhere they go invites you out, and you don’t feel like going, thank them for the invite and indicate you’ve something else going on. It will take more time to implement this boundary with friends you’ve set an expectation to have unlimited access to your time. It may take a few invitations from them to finally accept the word ‘no.’ The idea is to start slowly taking your time back until they get used to the boundary.
Before setting the boundary, set an intention with yourself that the discussion will go well and you will be successful with setting the boundary. If you go into the conversation with the mindset of it being impossible for the boundary to be enforced, that’s precisely what you’ll get. Setting an intention the discussion will go in your favor will create positive energy for the conversation. If you go into the conversation on the defense, it will more than likely end with a confrontation. Stay positive.
Shift your perception.
You might be having challenges setting a boundary because of your perceptions. When I used to give people my time, I felt that they needed my help, and if I didn’t help, I was selfish, and it would be my fault their problem went unsolved. Over time, I realized most of my relationships were built on the foundation of me giving my time to others. Effectively they were gaining time, and I was losing time. This lost time translated into a loss of life for me. I wasn’t engaging in the activities that moved my life forward or made me happy. Shifting your perception of how you see yourself and why you give your time away will help you build the courage to implement boundaries.
Putting up boundaries takes practice, and the more you do it, the less anxiety you will feel when you’re implementing them.