Do you have friends, work colleagues or even children who frequently over step the mark with you?
What I mean is; they make you feel really uncomfortable in some way. This could be anything from them paying a bit too much attention your spouse/partner, to calling you at ridiculous times of the day/night, to insisting on you doing something you don’t like, being something you’re not, or anything else that simply feels wrong.
It has happened to me; the most vivid example that comes to mind is of a previous ex who wanted me to be his “trophy wife” and insisted that I looked, behaved and spoke a certain way. It wasn’t obvious to me what he was doing as it was very subtle (although all my friends and family saw it loud and clear) I’m not even sure that he was conscious of the deep impact of his words and actions; the only clue I had that something wasn’t right was a constant low-level anxiety in my body. He played along those grey lines which were seemingly innocuous, but over the years, had a profound effect on my self-esteem.
Luckily, as soon as I got out of the relationship I was able to bounce back. Could I have prevented it? Absolutely! How? By listening to my body more. Relationships are about give and take, and there are some things where both you and I will draw the line, but when it’s just not clear and a bit too grey, your body is the best compass. For me, the feeling is a tightness in my throat. For one of my clients it’s a heavy, lead feeling in the stomach, for you it could be something different again. It’s very important to notice what the feeling is for you. Nowadays, if ever I have an inkling of an ache in my throat, I ask myself, “What’s this about?” and immediately address the issue. Then it’s dealt with and over.
How is this relevant to weight-loss? Whenever I used to get anxious, I would eat. I would seek to relieve the discomfort with the pleasurable feeling of food being in my mouth and having fullness in my stomach. My weight was constantly going up and down. This anxiety can and will also hinder you in your work and relationships, having multiple repercussions.
Take a moment to have a think about it; where is there anxiety in your life? How does it affect you?
By the way, anxiety isn’t caused purely by lack of boundaries, but lack of boundaries causes anxiety.
How do you set firm boundaries and expectations in your life?
Some people are really good at setting boundaries – if you’re one of those, please share your thoughts below so others can benefit!
Not sure how to set boundaries? Here are some suggestions:
- Know what you want (must haves), what you don’t want (must not haves) and where you’re prepared to compromise. Never compromise on the “must have”s and “must not have”s.
- Notice the physical reactions that come up for you when boundaries have been crossed. Instead of ignoring them, explore them and understand them.
- Be clear from the start of a relationship what your expectations are. This can be in the form of;
- A “designed alliance”, eg.. Let’s design something; I’m available to you between 9am and 5pm. After that I don’t pick up the phone or respond to emails.
- Saying what you need; eg. I need you to be open with me and tell me if you get stuck or don’t understand something.
- Being clear about what you won’t accept; eg. My pet peeve is when people are late. Please make sure that you’re always on time and always let me know if there’s anything at all that’s going to interfere with that.
- Be explicit about how you feel when a boundary has been crossed. Eg. I find your behaviour inappropriate, or; It upsets me when you tell your parents about personal things that we’re going through as I feel like you don’t respect my need for keeping personal things personal.
Where do you need to set some firm boundaries in your life?
Sometimes we subconsciously create boundaries that are unhelpful. They may have protected us and kept us safe once upon a time, but no longer serve us. An example of this is not sharing any personal information about yourself to those outside of your immediate circle of trust (or maybe anyone), which can lead to you finding it difficult to connect with others. It may also be over sharing what you’re going through to everyone and anyone who will listen which results in you feeling frequently let down. If you feel you may have unhelpful boundaries, a coach will help you to identify these and overcome these. If you’re ready for coaching, I welcome you to arrange a 30-minute taster session with me; just click here.
Over to you
What boundaries do you need to be stricter with in your life? How do you know? What’s one thing you’re going to do to address this?
Please share below and let’s learn and support one another!