That’s a photo of Griffin with his good friend at the “Marathon Games” – a 6-hour celebration and the culmination of his year-long soccer season.
It also marked the achievement of another one of the goals he had for himself – to score more goals in the spring than he did last fall.
It’s so wonderful to see him celebrate his success after he achieves a long-held goal!
The sad fact is that many people never achieve long-held goals because they find it hard to ask for what they need and get support for making them happen in the first place.
As it happens, I believe the not asking has a lot to do with not having good boundaries, that is, with not being able to tell people what is and is not okay with you.
Not setting boundaries is also the source of A LOT of unnecessary suffering – so, if you have this issue, read on!
I recently read a great question from Brené Brown that has really informed my thinking about how good boundaries are REQUIRED to live in integrity, love and generosity. Here it is: What boundaries need to be in place for me to stay in my integrity and make the most generous assumptions about you?
Make no mistake: when you value yourself enough to make good boundaries, you will show up more powerfully in all areas of your life – and all areas of your life will benefit.
But there is a caveat: If you are not in the habit of making yourself a priority, you have taught the other people in your life that you are not a priority.
So be forewarned: those others in your life will have gotten in a habit of seeing you in a certain way. When you start showing up differently it may cause some dissonance for them. They may not be able to show you the support you’d like as soon as you like it.
BUT I PROMISE that if you follow the 4 rules for creating good boundaries below, you WILL get their support and encouragement to continue this new way of being in the world.
Rule #1: Identify The “Boundary Breakers” You Deal with Most
Here’s the thing: Boundaries are agreements you have with yourself and others about how you want to be treated.
While no one likes to admit to getting hooked into a boundary issue – a situation in which one of these “how to treat me” agreement gets broken – the truth is, it happens to all of us. Which makes it critical for you to know exactly which types of “boundary breakers” are likely to undermine your priorities.
For example: If you routinely do too much for others and not enough for yourself, you’re likely to have people in your life who are asking for more than you can give while honoring your priorities to yourself. Makes sense, right?
Or if you’re someone who inwardly questions her own value, you’re likely attracting people in your life who question your value and don’t see why they should be inconvenienced so that you can take care of yourself. Also makes sense, right?
Dr. Phil is right when he says YOU teach people how to treat you.
Now that you know where you’re most likely to get hooked, it’s time for the next step.
Rule #2: Know How To Handle These Situations BEFORE They Happen.
Being unprepared isn’t likely to set you up for success, is it? Which is why I highly recommend you get a strategy in place in advance of your boundary being tested.
For example, if you tend to acquiesce when asked to do something for others, even when that means you won’t be able to do something for yourself (like exercise or plan and shop for healthy meals), then define your priorities in advance and then have them written out on a paper you can refer to easily.
This way, when a request is made for your time, and it’s something you’d like to do but conflicts with plans you’ve made, you’ll be able to confidently say:
“Thanks for thinking of me, and I’d love to help. However, I have plans for that time (you can be a little more forthcoming about what you’re doing if you like, but it’s not necessary). Would you like to look at our schedules and find another time that works for both of us?”
If a request is made for your time and you know it’s something you don’t want to do (or even if you’re pretty sure it’s not), kindly say:
“Thanks for thinking of me, but I won’t be able to help. I’m making “x” (my health, writing a book, spending more time with my kids, etc.) a priority and that’s taking up all my free time right now.”
Rule #3: Don’t Make Excuses Or Over Explain
Giving excuses and over-explaining when a simple explanation will do just lets people know that you need to please and need to be loved, and that you’re prepared to sacrifice yourself to make that happen.
Remember, you are the priority here and you need to please yourself and love yourself before you truly can be of service to anyone else.
Of course, this is challenging to remember when you’re feeling triggered. So here’s what to do to prepare for those moments when you’re going to want to tell someone your excuse or explanation.
The key is to take deep belly breaths and focus on 3 things:
#1 Taking care of yourself is never selfish.
#2 You are not responsible for someone else’s feelings.
#3 (really just a corollary to #2) No circumstance or person is ever responsible for how you feel. You decide how you want to feel by choosing the thoughts to support that feeling. Instead of focusing on how bad you feel because you didn’t help someone else, focus on how good you feel for helping yourself.
When you skip the excuses and the over-explaining your commitment to yourself will shine through. You’ll find yourself earning your own respect and the respect of others.
Rule #4: Define Your Priorities and Share Your Agreements/Boundaries
Make no mistake: Taking responsibility for yourself and your feelings is one of THE most challenging paths you’ll ever walk.
And learning how to define your priorities and create and maintain awesome agreements/boundaries is a big part of valuing your self and improving all aspects of your life.
Just think about it: Do you want others to do for you from a place of duty, guilt, or resignation? Of course not! Then why do you allow yourself to stand in that place when you do for them?
So grab a pen and jot down three agreements/boundaries you know you need to put into place in order to honor your priorities and yourself. They can be things like:
- “I won’t check email until after I eat a healthy breakfast and exercise in the morning.”
- “For the next week, I’m not going to agree to any change to my schedule without at least 48 hours’ notice.”
- “I will ask my husband for help in creating a schedule that will work for our family.”
Share your agreements/boundaries with your family, your friends, your coworkers and anyone else close to you so they can know about them in advance (no more expecting your spouse to be a mind reader, okay?). If you do this, you’ll find they will support you as you make this important shift.
You can do this and YOU are worth it!
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