Do you ever feel like all you ever do is react to life rather than live it? I know I do.
Between a full time job, finishing up a book and looking for an agent, dealing with my special needs dog and a renter, not to mention my hubby and kids, I haven’t had a lot of time to myself. Lest you think I’m glorifying business, I am not. It’s too much – even for an A-personality type like me.
Running the Rat Race
I miss just “being.” I miss feeling like I can just sleep without the alarm. I wish I had more time to take my mom out for coffee at our favorite café. I miss sitting on my neighbor DiAnn’s porch, drinking tea and chatting about her retirement plans.
That said, I truly feel this rapid paced season is just that – a season. Things will slow down when my husband’s job picks up. The book will sell. My kids will be more independent.
I have two choices during this whirlwind season of life:
1. Let life run me.
2. Run my life.
I’m going with #2.
With the firm understanding that God is the true author of my life, I can then do my best to be disciplined with my time. This means setting boundaries with people, places and things.
What is a Boundary?
Like this short video by Dr. Henry Cloud suggests, think about boundaries like property lines to a house. Example: If a tree from a neighbor’s yard falls into my own, is it my problem or theirs? It’s their’s, of course. I don’t have to be mean about it, but it’s not my job to spend my day bagging the leaves. My job is take care of my own tree so that it doesn’t fall on my house, or my kids, and do serious damage.
The same can be said for the property lines of my heart. I must guard it so that I can bring quality people and jobs into my life.
“But I’m Christian,” you might say. “I have to be nice to everyone!”
Yes, you do. But there’s a difference between a Christian and being a carpet rug. You simply can’t let people walk all over you.
Good Relationships Require Good Boundaries, Ladies!
For many women who are taught to be flexible and accommodating, this is a new concept to learn – especially when it comes to dating and marriage. (I’m 44, and I’m just now getting it!) But trust me when I say that if you do not set limits, you will be depleted, tired, cranky and resentful. That isn’t good for you, your family, your friends, your kids or any potential partners. Setting down rules of behavior in your present will guarantee you a much more successful future. After all, isn’t it easier to ask your neighbor to trim his leaves and branches before the tree comes crashing into your swimming pool or squashes the Chihuahua?
Additional Boundary Article
This is an excellent article on boundary setting. In it, the author writes, “You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. ‘Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.’ “
10 Ways to Set Boundaries (Note: All quotes taken from the article link above.)
1. Define your limits: Be clear with what you can and can not tolerate in a relationship.
2. Tune into your feelings: Are you uncomfortable or resentful? If so, you need to make a stronger boundary. Remember: Even Jesus set boundaries! And look what happened to him – people were not happy. They nailed him to a cross. But he did not back down and neither should you.
3. Be Direct: Some people are pushy and just won’t hear you. If you find the tactful route isn’t working, be less tactful. “No, I do not want to go to dinner with you.” It might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. And you owe no one an explanation.
4. Give yourself permission: “Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls,” the author says, “Many believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a good daughter or son, even though they ‘feel drained or taken advantage of.’ We might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place. Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.”
5. Practice self-awareness: “Again, boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, Gionta suggested asking yourself: What’s changed?”
6. Consider your past and present: Your role in you family is a huge indicator on how you will set boundaries with relationships. “If you held the role of caretaker, you learned to focus on others, letting yourself be drained emotionally or physically.” Your backround affects your job, too. “For instance, if your workday is eight hours a day, but your co-workers stay at least 10 to 11, there’s an implicit expectation to go above and beyond at work. It can be challenging being the only one or one of a few trying to maintain healthy boundaries. Again, this is where tuning into your feelings and needs and honoring them becomes critical.”
7. Make self-care a priority: Putting yourself first on the list gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there for them. When we’re in a healthy place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend.
8. Get support: “If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, seek some support, whether [that’s a] support group, church, counseling, coaching or good friends. With friends or family, you can even make it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together [and] hold each other accountable.”
9. Be assertive: “It’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us. Since they don’t, it’s important to assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary. In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you and that you can work together to address it.”
10. Start small: Like any new skill, assertively communicating your limits takes time and practice. Start with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increase to more challenging boundaries. “Build upon your success, and [at first] try not to take on something that feels overwhelming.”
Books on Boundaries and Self-Care
These are some great books on the subject of boundaries.
1) The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time
2) Boundaries in Marriage (along with several books on boundaries by the same authors).
Remember: Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support, but you can do it!
Leave a Comment
Anyone else out there attempting to set more boundaries?
I’d love to hear from you all. Leave a comment, write me at Andrea.Paventi@Gmail.com, find me on my Facebook page, tweet at me @AndreaFrazer or find me at my personal website.But don’t call my home #. I am setting a boundary there!