I hear so many women say how overwhelmed and stressed they are. They are being stretched so thin between home and work there is little or no time left for themselves to have a hobby, socialize, relax or take care of themselves.
Often this looks like running from sunup to sundown taking care of other people…it frequently results in physical symptoms like being tired, stressed hormones, carrying extra pounds on your body…and also can be yelling at your kids, snapping at your spouse, trouble falling asleep at night, not liking your job, resenting other people for asking too much of you.
So, what if you think of boundaries as being a fence around you? Picture an (aesthetically pleasing) fence to keep what you want inside and what you don’t want on the outside. There are gates to allow the movement back and forth.
Personal boundaries essentially protect your physical and emotional space, and help keep you safe.
Boundaries are healthy when you take responsibility for your own actions and wellbeing, and refrain from taking responsibility for the actions or wellbeing of other people.
At this point, you may not know what your boundaries are or what they should be. In that case, it’s hard to even recognize what is yours versus someone else’s...
It’s hard to protect your time, energy, your emotional and physical health if you don’t know where you end and someone else begins.
The first step to setting boundaries is to know what you want in your life.
What are appropriate boundaries for your worklife? That includes what times you are available (and not) to email, phone, meetings, whatever. Are your coworkers, boss or employees aware of your limits?
You may also want to consider, if you are in the office, do you leave when you intend to? Why or why not? When a new duty or project gets handed to you… and in your mind you are screaming, “when the hell am I going to do this?”… Do you say something or do you accept it?
Where are your boundaries at home? This is a huge role and includes domestic tasks, making appointments, remembering birthdays, maintenance issues, paying bills, etc.
Boundaries can be especially difficult for moms, and where those lines are drawn is very personalized. It may depend on the number of children you have, their ages, if you have a spouse or extra driver to manage drop offs and pick ups.
Considerations: Do you tell your kids no when you are too tired or drained? Do you say no we’re not adding another night of dance, hockey, gymnastics or whatever because I am at max capacity? Or, no, I can’t do another season of traveling soccer right now. Do you allow for sleepovers even when you are tired and need a quiet night?
Maybe you need clearer boundaries with your mom or friend or family member who is giving unwelcome advice about what to do, how your husband should act, and how you should be handling things in your life.
Regardless of the situation, your wants and needs are important too. However, you must respect your own needs–or it’s unlikely that others will. They can’t read your mind. They don’t know how you are feeling.
So- you have to tell them in order to protect or even maintain your own wellbeing.
“Yeah… but… my kids will be disappointed.”
“He’ll be mad at me…”
“They really need my help…”
Here is where the emotional work comes in. If you are draining yourself to protect someone else’s feelings… What is that doing to you long term? Are you functioning at your best at work or at home?
Likely not, because it's hard to be creative, efficient, fun or even kind when you feel like you are drowning.
Setting a boundry may mean you are trading the possibility of seeing your child’s disappointment for your own well being. Or, trading the possibility of a client/co-worker being frustrated for your own frustration. You can make either choice-- and also recognize the cost of it to you.
Having boundaries may make some other people uncomfortable. It may make you uncomfortable at first too. But, please hear me. It also makes you better. You are a better parent when you aren’t snapping at people or too tired to fully engage. You are modeling to the kids how to not be stretched so thin.
You are better at work when you are rested, feel good physically, you have the brain power to be innovative, solve problems, and be more efficient.
You are a better wife or partner when you aren’t blaming other people or feeling unappreciated.
I can hear you, "But Kristen… those are hard conversations and really this is my boss's fault… or my spouse’s fault, or my spouse’s boss’ fault or my kid’s coach…"
Sorry, my friend. If you are blaming other people… you have a boundary problem.
Guess who solves your boundary problem… you.
Boundaries is a huge topic, and this is just barely scratching the surface. Knowing what you want and don’t want is important, as well as how to communicate those to others, how to manage your mind (because this is new and scary!) and how to respond if someone doesn’t like your new limit.
I work with clients so they can be clear with their values and priorities and how to align their time and energy with what they do want in life. I teach women to detox from deeply conditioned people pleasing tendencies so they can confidently and easily make decisions, without doubt guilt or second guessing.
Please schedule a free consult call to talk about how coaching can change your life.