Boundaries Aftermath ...Now What?
You've done the work.
After a lifetime of people-pleasing, putting other people needs before your own and becoming less of yourself as a result of it, you’ve finally articulated what you need from other people.
It might have been saying no to someone overloading with you with more tasks in the workplace. It may have been declining a party invite from a party-hard acquaintance. It might have been a conversation about what you won’t put up going forward with from your partner. It might have been firmly holding your ground when someone wants to borrow money from you. It might be stopping coffee dates with a friend that made one too many little digs at you. Whatever it may be, you’ve erected that healthy boundary, it’s firmly in place and you’re determined to stick to it.
But now you feel rotten.
You were looking forward to a massive emotional release or even better, an abundance of freedom and a chance to be just you - but now you’re sitting in an emotional soup of guilt and regret for saying anything. The people you placed boundaries with might be shocked, disappointed, rejected, hurt or sad and it feels like it’s all your fault. The guilt is so heavy that you’re tempted to backtrack so everyone can just be at peace again.
But that’s the thing, if you do that, you’ll be the one that’s not at peace. And that’s where you started.
So, what do we do when we’ve finally built up the courage to say, “I’m important”, “I count” and “this is what I need to be my best self” AND keep our boundaries firmly in place:
STOP FEELING RESPONSIBLE: Remember that you’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. It’s up to other people to be self-aware of their own feelings, process them and regulate them. It’s also not your fault in how people cognitively interpret your boundaries. If they are not comfortable with your boundary, it’s up to them to work on getting a better understanding of why you’ve placed them.
SELF TALK: When you feel guilt creeping in, notice it and start telling yourself statements like: “It’s OK to set boundaries” or “Well done on being assertive even when it made you uncomfortable” or “It doesn’t mean I’ve done something wrong if I feel guilty” or” It’s normal to feel strange when we are doing things differently”. This will help you observe your emotions, get an understanding as to why you feel like that and help you self-soothe.
FOCUS ON BOUNDARY BENEFITS: It’s so easy to focus on how other people are feeling as a result of your boundaries, but it’s important to bask in the benefits of your boundaries. Notice if life is a little different now that you have these boundaries in place. Are you feeling better in other ways as a result of them? For example, do you have more time on your hands? Less stressed? Calmer? Sit in the positive feelings.
NICELY SET YOUR BOUNDARIES: Often people fear setting boundaries because they feel like they are being mean, demanding or selfish. But boundaries, like any communications, still can be stated with kindness, love and empathy. Always deliver them in an “I’m feeling …” sort of way as this is about what you need and why. Then show understanding as you deliver the message as not everyone wants to hear what you have to say, particularly if it inconveniences them. Always deliver your message in a kind way.
RECAP ON YOUR REASONS: When you get caught up in other people’s reactions to your boundaries, try and consciously recall all the reasons why you put these boundaries in place. It’s helpful to write them down or tell them to someone close to you. Go back to the why behind you putting them in place
It sometimes feels easier to allow your boundaries to crumble down when you feel like you’re upsetting others. But put it a different way; the more you are aligned with what you need to be your best self, the people around you will benefit far more.
As published in Body + Soul Nov 21st 2021. Full article HERE.