Sunday, September 19, 2010

Setting Boundaries



An important skill to develop is learning to set boundaries personally and professionally. This goes against the people pleasing mentality which requires that we attempt to be all things to all people while neglecting ourselves. If you notice yourself feeling frustrated, taken advantage of, overworked, overextended, resentful, and/or constantly tired, you may need to start setting more boundaries.

Here are few mental health tips for setting boundaries.
1. When a request is made of you take time to think about it instead of always giving an instant “yes”. You need to consider your other responsibilities, if this is in line with your purpose and life goals, if you have the skill and energy to successfully complete the task, and what place does it have in the grand scheme of things.

2. When you decide to say “no” do so without regret or guilt. When we exude guilt it leaves the door open for the person to continue to ask. You can communicate compassionately but clearly that you are unable to fulfill the request.

3. Setting physical boundaries is also important. If you feel someone is violating your physical space, speak up and attempt to physically move. Your body is a temple and worthy of respect and protection. If you are uncomfortable, trust that feeling and do what you can to interrupt the behavior or touch that is making you uncomfortable. The person may or may not mean any harm but if they are a touchy feely person and that makes you anxious or uncomfortable, the only way they will know it is if you let them know it.

4. Setting personal boundaries is also important. If someone asks you questions about a personal matter that you don’t feel comfortable answering, resist the automatic response that leads to answering now and regretting it later. You can say directly that you do not wish to have that conversation with them, you can change the subject, or you can simply walk away or end the phone call. When someone is attempting to bully or intimidate you, the behavior will often escalate until we shift it. Do what you can to end the intrusive pattern early.

5. Break the silence. Often when we remain silent the intrusions on our emotional and physical space multiple. Learn to speak up and express how you feel. Communication is an integral component to setting boundaries. Communicate directly and honestly to ensure the person knows the specific behavior that makes you uncomfortable and which you would like to stop.

6. When someone crosses your boundaries or otherwise takes advantage of you, do not pretend to yourself or to them that it didn’t happen. This masking or denial only serves to erase the impact of the earlier communication. People unfortunately do not always take words seriously. If it is important to you, be prepared to follow up with action. This is not threatening or manipulation but taking steps to protect and respect yourself and your feelings.

7. Celebrate yourself when you set boundaries instead of getting caught up in a guilt trip. It is a sign of strength and emotional maturity when you are able to set healthy boundaries. When you affirm yourself for doing this, it will become easier and easier.

Remember:
 You are not responsible for everyone’s happiness.
 You do not have to constantly be on the go to be valuable or good enough.
 You can take important steps to preserve your well-being.

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