Louise Thompson: Know your boundaries (Part 2)
More on boundaries today; it’s an area where pretty much everyone can benefit from a tune-up.
“What if I set a boundary and it doesn’t get respected” is the most common query here. It’s a good question and a handy area to have some tools up your sleeve for home, the office, the PTA committee or wherever you feel resentment bubbling up on a regular basis. Here are two to get you started.
The first thing to look at if you are feeling you are being taken advantage of, or your boundaries are being ignored, is: have you actually clearly stated what your boundary is?
This might seem pretty damn obvious, but I promise you the most usual cause of boundaries being stomped all over is that they have not been defined with clarity of expectation to the individuals in question in the first place.
Startlingly often we will spend more time bitching about boundaries being busted to a third party, rather than reiterating with clarity and directness to the person in question who is doing the boundary breaking.
We have a real habit of expecting others to be mind readers when it comes to our boundaries — that it’s just so gobsmackingly obvious that this thing should/shouldn’t happen, it doesn’t need spelling out. The thing is, it does. It absolutely does and that is your job.
So, first up, if you are finding a boundary is being continually busted, check in honestly with yourself to see whether you have defined, with clarity, compassion and directness, exactly what you need to the actual person in question. If you haven’t, that needs rectifying.
Complaining behind the scenes solves nothing and sucks energy. Take it direct to the source and ask for what you need or state what you expect.
Try not to get too freaked out about fear of conflict: when you start applying this principle what you will find in practice is that the vast majority of the time other people welcome the clarity and direction (often they have no idea they are driving you round the bend) and will happily comply with what you need.
The second area to look at when you are feeling resentful about having your boundaries walked over is consistency. Not their consistency, but yours.
A really important point to grasp is that you cannot expect other people to respect your boundary if you are not consistently respecting it yourself. We can often fall into a trap of expecting others to do/say/feel something about us that we are not prepared to do consistently ourselves.
Remember we educate people in how to treat us through what we do and say: our behaviour is demonstrable evidence to the outside world of how seriously we take our own boundaries. It’s key to honour them ourselves with consistency if we expect others to do the same.
So, the second thing to check is your own level of consistency. If you are continually and erratically leaving the kitchen like a bomb site or turning up to meetings late, you can’t expect others to respect your boundaries here, as you are not respecting them yourself.
So lead from the front, show others you mean business by living your boundaries from a place of strength and consistency. If you show up for yourself, others are far more likely to show up for you in the way you want them to. You can’t just tell them how important your boundaries are, you show them through the consistency of your actions.
Through her online Happiness programme “Wellbeing Warriors”, life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at louisethompson.com and find more from Louise at bite.co.nz/wellbeing