We all know we’re supposed to set boundaries. We’re supposed to speak up when someone says something hurtful, we’re supposed to say no when we don’t want to do something, we’re supposed to stand up for ourselves, even if it seems impolite.
Setting boundaries helps us stay balanced, not get overworked or overwhelmed, and they allow us to pause and think about if we really want to do something or not.
So why don’t we do it?
Understanding the Importance of Boundaries
Boundaries are the mental, emotional, and physical limits we establish to protect ourselves. They help us separate our own needs, feelings, and desires from those of others. Our boundaries might include saying no to extra work, protecting our time by not engaging in lengthy phone calls, or choosing not to tolerate disrespect.
Why Setting Boundaries Can Be Hard
Despite understanding the need for boundaries, it’s challenging to set and maintain them. Sometimes it’s because we fear rejection or confrontation, we don’t want to hurting others’ feelings, or deep-seated beliefs that our own needs are not as important. Societal pressures and expectations can further complicate our ability to assert our needs.
How to Set Boundaries When You’re Juggling Work, Family, Kids, etc.
One of the reasons setting and keeping boundaries are hard, is because people need us. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, if my kid gets sick, I’m there for her.
But over time, when we have competing priorities, a whole bunch of factors go into not only our decisions but our feelings about them.
- we have gulit
- we have fear
- we feel judged
And all of those things cloud our ability to know what’s right for not only us, but also for our families.
Partly it’s society, and external pressures, or expectations that we have on ourselves or that we think others have of us. Partly it’s because parenting is amazing and also really hard, and we can’t do it perfectly. All this pressure takes up so much of our headspace and mental energy.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize. If you ask me, or many other people for that matter, what’s more important to you? Health or work? of course I’d say health. Or if you say, you can’t be a good parent if you’re exhausted. We know that logically. We might even feel it emotionally.
But we don’t change it.
It’s because the day-to-day choices we make are based on years of subconscious patterning.
And when life is busy and we have no time to pause, and reflect, and figure out how to actually implement change, we default to just making it through the day.
Putting in boundaries is less about self-care and more about conscious change.
- The hard work of re-examining what guilt really means, and how much I want to carry.
- The pain of dealing with consequences of making a tough choice.
- The self love of asking for what I need, and the confidence to know that I am still loved when I do.
It’s not the work of thinking about a boundary and then communicating it, this is the work of diving deep into the things that influence us, and our actions, and our choices and shifting how we interpret it all.
What would it take for you to shift?
Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Boundaries
1. Identify Your Limits
Start by understanding your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. Consider what you can tolerate and accept, and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. These feelings signal where your limits are.
2. Tune Into Your Feelings
Pay attention to your feelings to identify when a boundary is needed. Feelings of discomfort or resentment can be indicators that others are pushing your boundaries or that your limits are being ignored.
3. Be Direct
With some people, it’s necessary to be direct about your boundaries. Use clear, concise language to define your boundary to someone, explaining why it’s important to you.
4. Give Yourself Permission
Many of us struggle with the fear that setting boundaries will lead to rejection or hurt feelings. Give yourself permission to set boundaries and recognize that they are a sign of self-respect.
5. Practice Self-Awareness
Setting boundaries requires understanding what you value and need. This self-awareness will empower you to make decisions based on what is best for you, not just to please others.
6. Consider the Consequences
Be clear about what action you will take if your boundaries are not respected. This might mean ending a conversation or stepping away from a relationship if necessary.
7. Seek Support
Setting boundaries can be challenging, especially in difficult relationships. Seek support from friends, family, or a professional who can provide you with the encouragement you need.