Throughout my teen years and into adulthood I’ve been very comfortable saying “yes” to the things I want and “no” to the things I don’t without guilt. As a life coach, I’ve discovered many of my clients have difficulty creating and enforcing personal boundaries, asking for what they want, and declining the things they don’t.
Your personal boundaries are the rules of engagement around your likes, dislikes and the way you spend your time. They are applicable at home, at work and even in the bedroom. They communicate your sense of self-love, autonomy and individuality. Wherever you go, your boundaries go with you. Much like a fence, they mark off where you end and someone else begins. They keep you safe from mental and physical intrusion.
We show respect for others by observing their boundaries, and we show self-respect and self-love by enforcing our own.
Boundaries arise from self-awareness. We can’t enforce a set of personal rules if we don’t know what they are. Here are my 5 tips to get your boundaries, and your life, in tip-top shape:
- Get to know yourself. In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield recommends making an “I Want” list with 30 things you want to do, 30 things you want to have, and 30 things you want to be before you die. He also recommends a “20 Things I Love to Do” list. In 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness, I offer a similar technique, with journaling prompts asking 20 things you want to do before you die and 50 things you love about yourself. While many people struggle with these exercises, they are very effective. No one can do the work for you. In order to love yourself authentically, you have to take the time to figure out who you really are. Listen to Iyanla Vanzant read about self-love and authenticity from 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness HERE.
- Make yourself a priority. Once you’ve learned to authentically know and love yourself, you will clearly see the value of your time and efforts. When you understand your own value, you will see the importance of prioritizing yourself. You are important; therefore, your mental, physical and emotional health are important too. You have a limited amount of precious time, so you must guard your time the same way you would guard your most valuable possessions.
- Learn to say “yes” and “no” with polite enthusiasm. Saying “yes” to the things you want is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Likewise, saying “no” to things that are unhealthy or undesirable is also a great source of satisfaction. Both of these activities root you in your truth and allow you to move forward in alignment with your goals and your nature. This doesn’t mean that you don’t engage in mundane activities like cleaning your house or helping a friend move. However, you must first decide if you want to clean the house or help the friend.
- Release resentments. Take an inventory of your relationships. Notice if you harbor subtle anger in the form of resentment. This feeling can arise from saying “yes” when you wanted to say “no.” Write out your feelings for each person and the reason for your resentment. Did you expect them to do something, and they never did? Do you need to tell them something? You might be angry with someone, and they have absolutely no idea about it. When you finish writing your list, make a note of what you can do to release the resentment. Should you have a conversation with the person? Or do you need to learn to speak your mind in the future so that resentments don’t continue to grow?
- Know and enforce your limits. Once you know yourself and you’ve found your courage, enforcing your limits will feel natural. For me, I have no problem with profanity, but I don’t like people yelling or cursing at me. That’s one of my limits. If you can’t speak to me calmly, we can talk later. Another limit for me is accepting racism, sexism, homophobia or any other negative classification of a group of people. If I hear it, I’ll call you on it. But, my biggest one is protecting my time.
Your boundaries let other people know that you have self-respect, self-worth and you don’t let other people define you. Like a fence, boundaries keep us safe from intrusion. Legendary spiritual coach, Iyanla Vanzant says boundaries let others know what we will expect, allow, accommodate and tolerate in our space and in our life.
Strong boundaries are critical. Weak boundaries allow others to easily manipulate, use or violate you. Having and honoring boundaries is a statement of personal and mutual respect. And, who wouldn’t want that?
I wish you passion, purpose, and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. You can join my Facebook LIVE conversation about boundaries on International Women’s Day, Tuesday, March 8 at 6pm EST! I’ll be discussing Creating Healthy Boundaries with author, Yuliana Francie, blogger, Malini Sarma, and actress Deb Marcano. Our discussion will span over 8,000 miles and three continents. Watch at https://facebook.com/trishahjelroberts.