This month I held my Spring into Life Week, a week where we took the time to look within ourselves at the areas that require well, a little Spring Cleaning.
We often put so much effort into Spring cleaning our homes, yet we don’t afford ourselves the same attention when it comes to things like our Mindset, Confidence, Self-Esteem and Boundaries.
So, I wanted to keep to this theme in this month’s blog and ask you about your boundaries?
Do your personal and professional boundaries need a little Spring Cleaning, metaphorically speaking? Do they need an update? Or do you need to start setting boundaries in your life?
Boundary setting is crucial to our wellbeing and the forming of our identity. So, even though we know how important they are, why then are some of us so bad at setting them? Especially as personal boundaries and self-esteem go hand in hand!
Do we even know what our boundaries are? Or are they something that goes up suddenly around us like an emergency firewall when tested?
Perhaps we are bad at setting boundaries because we worry that if we put them in place or try saying no that we will offend people?
Well, the truth is we might, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid putting them in place. Our boundaries matter just as much as the next persons.
It might be that we have experienced people telling us in the past in response to our boundaries that we are being “selfish” or attempt to shame or guilt us.
For some, it is a real struggle due to upbringing and living in an environment where there wasn’t any clear boundaries or expectation, perhaps in a home with addiction and therefore setting boundaries doesn’t come naturally.
We can also sometimes find ourselves attuned to other people’s boundaries. Have you ever found yourself in a conversation and you say something, pause and expect the other person to reinforce your boundary only to be met with silence?
Then that feeling of panic sets in, of worrying that they will no longer accept and like you and before you know it the worst has happened, we’re starting to backtrack and adapt to their boundary.
We can also experience boundary confusion if we meet someone who constantly affirms us, listens to us intensely and agrees with us all the time. This attention can feel wonderful in the beginning, but it is their need to be liked, their need to be loved and so we are experiencing little if any boundaries. And any boundaries experienced are certainly not ours so not so great in the end.
So, what are boundaries all about and why do I need them?
➡ Boundaries let other people know how we want to be treated (it's our okay and our not okay). These
are our limits and protect us from being mistreated.
➡ Boundaries create a healthy separation (physical and emotional) between us and others. Boundaries
allow us to have our own space and privacy, our feelings, thoughts, needs, and ideas. They allow us to
be ourselves rather than an extension of someone else or who someone else wants us to be.
So, if you haven’t thought about your boundaries in a while perhaps now is a good time to find a quiet place, grab that pen and paper and write down what’s important to you.
I’m often asked by my clients ‘how do you know what your boundaries are’ and ‘where do I even begin’?
I would suggest exploring the following (yup you guessed it, pen and paper time again!).
➡ Start tuning into your emotions. Our emotions can be a strong indicator of what our boundaries are.
Knowing how you respond to certain interactions can help identify what your boundaries might be.
➡ Listen in on your thoughts. Thoughts like emotions give us information, and this information can
guide us towards our boundaries.
➡ Write down what your values are.
➡ Write down what you are ok with. What do I allow?
➡ Write down what you allow and don’t like. Do you need to put a boundary in place or is this where
compromise comes in?
➡ Write down what I don’t allow.
Still confused, talk to friends. Talking about different boundaries can help open our minds to what might be right for us. Our upbringing can have a direct impact on the boundaries that we believe are a good fit. A different perspective is a healthy way of exploring if there are other boundaries we haven’t considered for ourselves yet.
Now all this talking about personal boundaries has led me to think about our changing world. The way we live, and work has changed considerably, and we are soon about to embark on what I believe is being referred to as the ‘bounce back, but what will this look like?
Many of us have adapted to new ways of working and have had to embrace the change to WFH (working from home).
Many of us have had to re-examine our boundaries when it comes to work and home and how we try to find the balance.
Do you remember wishing you could work from home? I certainly do. I craved the opportunity to work from home several years ago and in truth… be careful what you wish for as it has proved a little more challenging than I had once thought it might be.
It’s this forced change and the fact that I’ve made a muddle of my business boundaries in the past that made me stop and think about how I want this to work for my husband and me. Now in the spirit of honesty, we have had to make several attempts at this. Me floating past in my white dressing like a ghost while my husband is on a Zoom call isn’t quite the professional look he was going for.
We then tried one of us in the office and the other in the kitchen. Do you know how annoying it is every time a dog needs a wee or the kettle boils?
So here we were trying to keep a boundary between work and home and running out of places to try and make that happen.
Then throw into the mix our work boundaries which are VERY different and BOOM!!! You’ve got yourself a 2021 kind of boundary problem.
The interesting part was whilst we were going through this struggle, it didn’t occur to us straight away that it was a reassessment of our boundaries that was needed.
It was the new normal and we should be grateful for so many things such as our work and our health that our start time and finish time shouldn’t matter, what room we carried out our work, well who cares, how many cups of tea we each made why count. But it did matter, and it does matter.
And so, we imagine the problem to be in each other, but it was actually within ourselves. A quick audit of the environment and what’s important, of what was required to successfully do our jobs and hey presto harmony and balance returns.
Hands up those of us who have imagined our nearest and dearest have physic powers and just know what we need.
Well, shocker, they don’t!
We needed to communicate that to each other.
If we struggle to know what we need, what our boundaries are then it’s a big stretch and an even bigger ask that those around us can work them out on our behalf.
The moral of this story is that boundaries are important, they keep us safe and benefit those around us as they act as a guide to what our limits are. They are moveable and changeable, so it is important to audit our boundaries from time to time. To look closely at what boundaries we need for our different relationships, friendships, work and businesses.
Balancing the necessity of work and life can get overwhelming at times. Here are my top tips that I have used for assessing my business boundaries.
➡ Go back to basics and consider what hours you are prepared to work? Is working over the weekend
and into the evening's something you are prepared to do?
➡ What are the important things in your life that you will not sacrifice, time with family and when that is,
exercise and anything else that is a priority for you?
➡ I found it important to not get fixated on work-life balance, instead, I protect the number of hours of
sleep I get each night.
➡ Pay attention to any changes and what that might mean to your existing boundaries for example this
➡ Protect your health. Overworking can be so damaging to our health. Make time to eat well, exercise
and sleep. Don’t be afraid to block time out in your diary for this.
➡ Make time for yourself each day to relax and recharge.
➡ Become aware of your time thief’s, are there certain work tasks that you could outsource? Are you
spending a little too much time on social media? Where could you reclaim time?
➡ Learn and practice saying no!
➡ Reaffirm your boundaries when needed.
If you’d like to find out more about coaching and how my business coaching program can help you book a call today.