Episode 35: Boundaries
Episode 35: Boundaries
Welcome, welcome my friends! Happy to have you here with me. It’s Thanksgiving today if you’re listening to this on release day. I want to tell you how grateful I am to YOU for being here, for supporting this podcast, for sharing – I love that you share this message and I’m so grateful for those that tell me about it, otherwise, I would have no idea. So thanks for sharing these empowering messages and tools. I want to give a special shoutout to my Catalyst members. You are all amazing, amazing people and I love that you are part of this incredible community where it’s all about real life, real challenges, and developing real confidence. So grateful for you.
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Okay, let’s get started with the topic. Last week we talked about Toxic people and how we don’t have run away, how they truly can’t hurt us emotionally, and how there’s no such thing as a “toxic person” – it’s such a good episode – so if you haven’t heard it yet, go back and listen to episode 34 on Toxic people and today we’re talking about boundaries. What a boundary is and what it is not, why setting boundaries is essential for your wellbeing and for you to feel confident in your interactions with the world and why most people are thinking about boundaries and setting up boundaries incorrectly and in a way that they don’t work and they don’t last.
So today, we’re talking about confidently setting boundaries that are unbreakable and that work.
Let’s start by talking about what a boundary is. For a lot of you out there, this definition is going to be very different for you because there’s a belief that boundaries are something that we establish for other people to do or stop doing. This isn’t a boundary though – this is a demand. So understanding what a boundary is will be helpful in knowing when you need to create a boundary and when you don’t.
A boundary is a way for you to protect you. It’s not contingent on the other person at all. We create boundaries for ourselves, that are upheld by ourselves, to protect ourselves. Notice, it doesn’t involve the other person at all. We don’t need boundaries to avoid other people or to make them stop doing something, we create boundaries so that we can show up confident and feel secure always.
Boundaries are an individual thing.
I want to point out that there is a difference between having a manual, holding on to our preferences which I’ve talked about before and needing to set and create a boundary. On the one hand recognizing that it’s a manual issue like they shouldn’t have their music up so loud. Vs. a boundary and need to protect yourself.
You need to decide what’s acceptable or absolutely not something you want to tolerate and need protection from but from a clear standpoint, meaning you’ve done your thought work around it, you like your reasons for it, you’ve checked your manual and preferences and you’ve made a decision from this place and now I want to set a boundary for me, to protect me. Make sense?
A boundary is a well thought out choice that you make for you. It’s clearly stating what you will do if certain behaviors and actions continue to happen. Did you catch that? It’s not telling others to stop, it’s not offering ultimatums. It’s stating what you will do to protect you.
Now, here’s the thing, we never need to set a boundary unless there’s been a boundary breach and a violation – something happened that you’re not comfortable with and decided you won’t tolerate that. Setting boundaries isn’t to make them stop or to change them in any way. They have their agency and can continue to do whatever it is they want to do but this is for you to protect you.
We don’t go around telling people that we just met or within the first five minutes of talking, “umm…I don’t like loud music so if you play loud music I’m going to leave”. It’s unnecessary because there’s not music even playing. It’s only when it’s applicable that we share our boundary.
“Hey, I don’t like loud music so if you continue to play the music at that volume, I’m going to leave.”
Notice, it had nothing to do with them. It’s telling them clearly what isn’t acceptable for you. So now they have that information and can do with it what they want. Maybe they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know. No problem. I’ll turn it down” or maybe they won’t. But the boundary isn’t about them. It’s about you taking care of you.
It’s a not form of manipulation or being passive-aggressive. This is why I say we need to come from a well thought out mind. We need to do our thought work first so we’re not throwing out ultimatums and calling them boundaries.
Boundaries are a personal endeavor. It’s about you only you. You listening to yourself and your needs and then going about taking care of those needs for you. It’s allowing the other humans to be human and choose to use their agency. It’s not trying to control them, to change them, to need them to be different. It’s all about you taking care of you.
So that being said, we don’t create boundaries from a rash state. It’s not in the heat of an argument. Like, that’s it! I’m not tolerating that! You need to stop or I’m going to leave! You can tell that’s emotionally charged. You can still remove yourself from that place if you need to protect you but the boundary comes later. It comes after you’ve done your thought work and from a calm and loving space-loving for you and loving for them, knowing they’re human and it’s okay. Then you can create a boundary.
I want to go over a few parameters for a boundary. Remember, think of a boundary as a fence. We have physical boundaries for our protection, right? We want our own privacy and protection and it’s stated as a law that others cannot cross that boundary. If they do WE call the police for our safety and protection. The fence isn’t there yelling at people telling them don’t even come near me. We live peacefully among the fences and no one needs to even address them. It’s only when the boundary has been breeched that a discussion needs to be said.
Here’s the thing with boundaries. For you, the behavior is going to be self-explanatory. It’s like, that’s not okay, ever. But the truth of it is, your definition of what’s acceptable and what’s not is really subjective.
Let me give you a few examples of this. When we were younger and had only two of our four kids my husband served as the Young Men’s president. He was and is super fun and the boys just loved him. There were two boys, love these boys that felt like it was totally acceptable to walk into your backyard and come in the house through the sliding glass door. Like, without prior warning or notice. I’d just be in the kitchen cleaning up and I’d hear my back door open then there’d be people.
In my manual, that’s totally not cool. We had to set a boundary – only after the boundary was crossed mind you. We don’t tell everyone that we meet that they have to give us a warning and to use the front door only after we welcome them in.
But to them, that was totally normal. We know people that are absolutely fine with people coming to their house at any time and raiding their kitchen – whether they’re home or not.
Another example was if a spouse or family member starts to criticize or talk negatively about you. To you, that might not be acceptable. You might think, That’s rude and disrespectful! They shouldn’t do that. But to them, it might be totally fine. It’s just what they’re used to or how they were raised.
Whatever it is we need to acknowledge that your definition of unacceptable or bad behavior might not be the same as their interpretation of that. And when we’re coming from the judgment place of they shouldn’t act that way, talk to me that way, etc – we show up wanting to change them. We’re judging them and that’s not what boundaries are.
They’re not for us to change their behavior because if they change their behavior then you can feel better. It’s not as a tool for manipulation either. This is like creating a boundary believing that they’ll have to change their actions and hoping they do so you don’t have to follow through with enforcing the boundary.
I see this a lot. People set boundaries but then they didn’t really mean it and they don’t want to follow through with it. You need to be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to do to protect you. You can leave, you can walk away, you can block numbers, whatever that is but you have to make sure you’re 100% willing and ready to enforce it otherwise it’s not a boundary, it’s an attempt to manipulate or control the other person.
It’s really important that you don’t create boundaries in the moment or when you’re emotionally charged. You need time to be honest with yourself, to check your preferences, your manual and see what you want to do, what you will tolerate and won’t tolerate, and what you’re willing to do for you.
Boundaries are not about the other person at all. They’re made by you, for you, to protect you. It’s all about you. Not them. You.
But when you make it about them and wanting/needing them to change you’re caught up in resistance. You’re mentally focused on what they’re doing and what you’;re making that mean about you and why they shouldn’t do that and they’re disrespecting you and we create huge stories around this so much so that we’re so focused on them that we’re not focused on us and taking care of us and figuring out what we want to do. We just know what we want them to do or not do.
Pay close attention to yourself when you’re thinking this way. Notice that your thoughts are solely about them and what you’re making it mean about you. You might be confused at first like, why would they do that? How could they do that? Then we start interpreting their behaviors and creating all kinds of uncomfortable meanings and not-productive or helpful stories either. Then our minds start trying to control them, what can I say or do to make them stop – maybe tears will get them to stop, maybe if I threaten to leave, maybe if I refuse to talk then they’ll stop, then I can feel better.
Going about it this way isn’t about you at all and protecting you – it’s about them and how you can try to control them.This creates huge mental drama and confusion, hurt, and lots of unhealthy feels.
This is why I teach you that you need to step back and give yourself time to think and do thoughts before you set a boundary. When you set a boundary and you don’t follow through with it, you’re hurting yourself and your confidence. It’s making it so you can’t trust you so the next time you try to tell yourself you won’t tolerate that kind of behavior your brain doesn’t believe you. It’s like, yeah right.
You have to allow yourself time to get to a clean compassionate state before setting boundaries. You have to get your own needs met before you can move forward. If your needs aren’t met you’re going to show up needing them to be different instead of taking care of your own needs and then wanting them to show up differently but not needing them to.
This is huge when it comes to boundaries. Boundaries aren’t to teach them a lesson. Of I’ll show them! It’s a way for you to protect and take care of you.
A healthy boundary looks like this:
1.) accessing the need – doing your thought work and getting clean on what you will tolerate, what you won’t and figuring out what the need is. You do that by asking yourself to picture if they did what you wanted them to, how do you think you’d feel?
safe? Secure? loved? respected? valued?
You have to give this to yourself first. These feelings come from your thoughts. Only you can give yourself these. So do this first. When you can give this to yourself first it’s easier to get to a state of compassion and clarity for them.
2.) Figure out what you will do for you if their continue doing whatever it is they’re doing. Make sure it’s something you’re willing to enforce for yourself.
3.) state the boundary clearly and state what you’re willing to do if they continue.
It looks like this:
I’d appreciate it if you could stop yelling. If you continue to yell, I’m going to leave.
Stated clearly what you would like them to stop doing, stated clearly what YOU will do if they continue, and you offer them agency to choose what they want to do or not do.
These boundaries are rock solid because they’re not created on a whim or ill-thought-out or while being emotionally charged. They’re created from a sound mind. From a place of security and trust within yourself and they’re not contingent on the other party.
That’s why these boundaries are fail-proof. You control them and since you love you and want to take care of you, you can be honest with yourself and open to what you’re willing and wanting to do.
Boundaries are beautiful things because they help you establish confidence. Think of the opposite of confidence – insecurity right? If you’ve filled all the holes in ahead of time for you – then doubt disappears and you can show up confident and secure.
Coach yourself, do the thought work, give yourself as much time as you need. Do not rush into boundaries. Boundaries aren’t emotionally charged – they’re NOT a feeling. They’re a decision you make of what you’re willing to do to protect you.
They provide a way for you to make requests from a confident standpoint. You don’t need them to change. You accept that they have agency and the boundary isn’t for them because we can’t change them. The boundary is for you to take care of you.
There is a difference between boundaries and rules btw. This work doesn’t apply to children or people in the workplace where there is a boss or rules to abide by. These boundaries are in relationships between two able-minded adults.
The dynamic between parents and children is different. As a parent, you can create rules and consequences for those rules. Again, no drama just set rules and clear consequences. The same is true for a boss and employee. There are rules in the company and consequences. An employee can’t set boundaries for the boss or employer. They can’t say, “I don’t like the way you’re treating me. It’s unprofessional and you need to stop.” Because that might also be seen as unprofessional. But you do have your agency and you can create a clean boundary but again you have to remember you have to follow through with the consequence.
So you can go to the boss and share what you’d like changed. For example, “I don’t like the way you’re talking to me. If you continue this way, then I’m going to leave, I’m going to quit, put in my two weeks notice” whatever that is for you. You always have the right to use your agency to do what you want and need to do. You don’t have to stay in a job where you’re uncomfortable but you also can’t tell the boss how the boss needs to treat you because the boss doesn’t have to keep you around either. You can make requests after you’ve done your thought work and you’re coming from a clean space – not heated or emotionally charged – clean space and then decide what you want to do to protect you.
Be as specific as possible otherwise, it’s up to interpretation and it’s confusing. So be clear and be clear as to what you’ll do. Another example, if I have a friend who is always late and I think it’s disrespectful and something I don’t want to tolerate. I can set a boundary. I first need to realize that she has her agency. She gets to show up whenever she wants. I need to do my thought work to not make a story around it – like she’s disrespecting me. I need to change it to the circumstance. So in so showed up at 5:15. Maybe my thought is, I wanted to leave by 5:00 we agreed for 5:00. As I respect her and her agency I can set a boundary. I can say, “I want to hang out with you but if you’re not here by 4:55 then I’m going to leave”. It’s nothing against her. It’s for you to decide what you will tolerate and what you won’t.
So decide what the boundary is, make it really thought out in your mind before you bring it to the person because you have to commit to the boundary. You’re the glue. You’re what makes it unbreakable. It’s not them. It’s totally you and you get to decide if you want to make a suggestion, share your thoughts, or make a boundary.
Boundaries are all about love, compassion, and acceptance for you and for them. If you’re not in that space. You’re not ready for a boundary. I say that because you might not honor the boundary for you and that will damage your relationship with you. It’ll hurt your ability to create confidence because confidence is founded on being able to rely and trust yourself. The more you manage your mind the better.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Preparation precedes power” this is so true when it comes to boundaries. You have to spend the time preparing so that you can create solid boundaries out of love and respect for you.
Okay, that’s what I’ve got for you this week – make sure to come join the membership. It’s truly an incredible space and one of the best investments you guys can make. It’s only $50 a month and trust me, you get so much content, workbooks, classes, mini-classes which are all buffet style you can dive deep into as many as you’d like and create an amazing life for yourself. Head over to members.thecataylstcoaching.com and join. You’ll love it and prepare to be transformed!
Talk to you next week!