1. Get specific about where you need a boundary
What specifically happens in your day that makes you feel stressed, anxious, frustrated, sad? What is it that triggers this feeling? This is where you need a boundary.
For example, “when I receive emails from clients after 6pm I feel anxiety that I need to respond immediately ”.
Thinking generically does not hit the crux of our challenge and so the boundary we try to put in place doesn’t have the impact we want and it quickly falls by the wayside.
2. Make the boundary about you!
Too often we put the onus on external factors. “I will ask my boss to not email me on weekends” This is disempowering as we have no control on the actions and behaviour of others.
Put yourself in the driving seat of your boundary. “I am going to turn off email notifications on my phone every Friday at 6pm”.
3. Understand why you want that boundary
Take time to establish how having the boundary in place will benefit you. Ask yourself, “what are all the positive impacts of having the boundary?”.
If you find this tricky, try delving with the three whys – “why is this good for me?”, “why is that important?” and “why do I want that?”.
Being clear on this is helpful to come back to when our strength around implementing the boundary starts to waiver.
4. Build your resilience to handle other people’s response to you setting your boundary
This is often the forgotten piece of the puzzle.
We get ourselves mentally prepared to state the boundary out loud, do so and then receive a negative response which topples our confidence. Perhaps we even revert back, taking our boundary back down, as we would rather avoid the confrontation or pushback.
When we make a change, yes it is almost a certainty that others will respond, in some way or other… positively or negatively. Acknowledging this is the first step of resilience. Knowing some kind of reaction is coming, takes away the shock!
The next step to being resilient to others’ responses… for me this is two fold…
- Acknowledge this is your boundary and no one else has any responsibility to adhere to it. Clearly communicate your boundaries to those who might be affected, but also take steps to ensure your boundary is robust enough to mean others actions don’t affect you. For example, if the boundary you want is to not take work calls whilst you are with your children, your colleagues can and may still call! Turn off your phone so you can’t see the call when the colleague calls.
- Be confident that you have put the boundary in for a reason, and those reasons are valid and positive. This is where the why comes in. You can remind yourself of the benefits, and that long term these outweigh the negative immediate feeling of others’ responses. (And if you wish, you can use this explain to those responding you your new boundary why you need it, and if relevant why it will also help them. For example, if you have a boundary about switching off from work at a reasonable time, and you need this to re-energise, so you can be more creative, innovative and productive when in work, then this also means better results for your boss!)
5. Acknowledge and record where you adhere to your own boundary
Build up that evidence that you CAN and HAVE implemented your boundary and stuck to it.
Then go that step further and acknowledge, how did it make you feel when you did it? What was the outcome?
This can reinforce your “why it’s important” and the resilience to keep sticking with it… BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU CAN AND IT HAS A POSITIVE RESPONSE.
If you need support in implementing boundaries, or with other approaches to ensure you can have all the success you deserve and are capable of without sacrificing who you are or your wellbeing in the process, I am here for you.
This article was written by Tonya Malone, one of our partner coaches who helps women to create the life and career they love, achieving success and fulfilment without sacrificing who they are or their wellbeing. You can get in touch via her profile page.
October 1, 2023