Personal Boundaries: Saying No, Saying Yes, And Staying Open
Last month I wrote about creating community. I talked about how, in order to build a better network around yourself, you have to remain willing and open to the individuals who may be able to contribute to the community you want to build. All of this is true, of course, but there’s another side to that coin, as well. We’ve got to be able to set boundaries within our own communities if we are to protect ourselves and remain strong for the future. Boundaries are not always a hard, negative stance against something, however.
Sometimes, we set boundaries – not to keep others out – but to keep our collaborators in. Boundaries can be used to enforce a needed distancing, or they can be built to simply establish a social space where our peers, friends, and colleagues can reside safely.
Here’s how you can make sure that the parameters of your relationships are exactly what they should be:
Such an essential thing to be able to do, and yet many people find saying this single-syllable word to be one of the greatest challenges they regularly face.
We must be able to say “no” in our own lives. Yes, it is true that life will throw obstacles and debris your way, and that when this happens it can be a very valuable skill to be able to “roll with the punches.” Being flexible and accepting that which we cannot change is crucial to our long-term health, satisfaction, and happiness.
But, saying “no” is about not accepting the things which you do not have to accept. And, when it comes to the behaviors of others, you are free to set your own limits and guidelines.
When people take from or burden you, you want to believe that they do so without ill intent. You want to believe that it’s just a mistake, an accident in which you are the unfortunate bearer of bad weight. But, whether people harm or negatively impact us do to maliciousness or negligence is often, well, negligible.
If a doctor told you that you were allergic to strawberries and that eating them could kill you, you’d avoid strawberries no matter how much you love them in your milkshake. The same should be said of toxic, or even careless, people in your life. When people take advantage and never offer anything in return, that’s not friendship, or love, or even collaboration. That’s just social poison that you willingly drink down, until you decide not to anymore.
Now, even with all of that being said, we have to realize that sometimes our immediate and long-term needs are not as clear, or self-focused, as they seem to be. A simple act of kindness can do so much to heal the spirit and revitalize the mind, it would be a shame to pass up such an opportunity simply due to a short-sighted misinterpretation of your own immediate needs.
Yes, sometimes the best way to put our own well-being first is to recognize the difference between that which we need, and that which we desire, and re-prioritizing our interests to take a backseat to how we can help someone else. True generosity can be infectious and deliriously exciting, so don’t pass up on an opportunity to help someone else just because you don’t think you’re up to the task.
This is a pretty self-explanatory idea… or, at least it seems to be. We all know what it means, in theory, to keep an open mind. But, what does the practice actually look like?
If you’ve ever seen someone devote serious, intentional thought to a subject or choice that seemed simple, you’ve seen open-mindedness in action. We have to be able to analyze the circumstances we‘re in, weigh them against our needs and desires, then make an informed decision about what to do.
Being open-minded isn’t about simply turning yourself into one of the yes men or women, it’s about embracing the boundaries that work for you, and exploring the outer reaches of those boundaries with enthusiasm.
So, that’s it. That’s what setting boundaries is all about in a condensed nutshell of a package. I’d like to say that it really is as simple as I’ve outlined here, but as the saying goes, some things are easier said than done. Setting boundaries in your life is a nuanced and complex task, requiring an evolving strategy and a willingness to learn and be creative for your own solutions to your own problems.
How do we do this, day in and day out? How do we not succumb to the pressures of stress, life, and everything else? Well, sometimes, we have to do it together.
If you’d like help learning how to set personal boundaries in your life, or managing the stress that berates you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m so fortunate to guide people and watch as they tap into their own creative energies and build the reality they want. And, as a master NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist, I have seen incredible strength and power come pouring out of those who didn’t even know they contained it.
Are you doing your best to work within the boundaries of your own life? Let’s find out, together.