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5 Tips to Setting Boundaries

5 Tips to setting boundaries
5 Tips to setting boundaries

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the five steps and tips to setting boundaries in your life.

First a quick update:

“Harvard cheating scandal”
Harvard College disclosed that over 100 students were suspected of cheating on a take-home exam last summer. Listen to the interview I give to Jim Peake @Mysuccessgateway as we delve into the causes, motivations and potential solutions of a widespread syndrome of poor character, greed and success at any price that has infected almost all elements of society from students and parents to politicians and sports players, and, bankers and investors.

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Now, let’s talk about the five steps and tips to setting boundaries in your life.

Can you relate to this comment below?

“I cannot set boundaries anywhere in my life! I end up so resentful and upset that I have been “used” by so many and so often that I get really, REALLY mad and end up doing damage to relationships; all because I could not find it in my voice to say “NO”. Even when I say no, people don’t believe me and continue dropping off kids, signing me up for volunteer work, or ending up just doing what I have said I wouldn’t do…I  really want to quit saying “Of course”, when I mean ‘Hell no.’”

When you refuse to say “no” or believe you can’t say “no” in your life, you end up feeling used, weak, devalued and foolish. Feelings of guilt, resentment, helplessness, hopelessness, anger (at self and others) begin to impact and pervade your life.

The simplest solution to stop people from using or draining you and to stop people from overstepping the boundaries is to say “No” but, there are other critical steps to establishing and easily enforcing your boundaries.

1. Awareness
Begin by identifying the areas and specific events, people and relationships where you feel used, drained, resentful or angry. Include home, office and relationships with family, friends, workers and colleagues. Is there a common thread? Again, be specific. For example, “Sue keeps me on the phone for hours and all she does is dump all her problems on me…John gives me his work at the office and expects me to do his job…”

2. Drawing the line
You cannot have boundaries if you don’t know what they are. Draw the line now. Write out what you will accept and won’t accept in every area of your life. Establish your values, priorities and what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable. Create a policy for yourself in every area of your life. For example, “My policy is that the only person that drives my car is me” or “My policy is to devote time to making decisions and thus I sleep on them.” Of course, use your own wording; instead of ‘policy’ you might use ‘approach’ or drop the word completely and say “I devote time to making decisions and thus I sleep on them; I will have an answer for you tomorrow.”

3. Practice saying No
This is the most challenging part for most people. Why? Primarily for three reasons: 1. Because we weren’t taught to say “No”; we weren’t taught to consider what we want, how we feel or what is truly significant to each of us. And if you experienced any form of abuse, finding your own voice and using it is even more challenging. 2. We say “Yes” because we seek the other person’s approval and acceptance; we want them to like us. 3. Fear of conflict or confrontation.

You can begin practicing saying “No” in small areas of your life. Also, practice exactly what you will say to the other person. For example, consider the meaning of boundaries; we use the phrase in sports “out of bounds” i.e. it is outside the boundary line and accordingly there is some sort of penalty – loss of a point or even loss of a game. Thus, it is okay to say to someone “Stop shouting at me. If you continue to shout at me, I will end the conversation/leave the room/walk away.” “You make/made negative/suggestive comments about my appearance. Please stop.” “If you continue to treat me this way, I will walk away/stop communicating with you.”

Read my other detailed articles designed to empower you and teach you how to say “No”:

Sayin “No!”

How to Say “No”

The Fear to Speak Up

4. Practice saying “Yes” and asking for help
There are times to say “Yes” and times to say “No.” The appropriate time to say “Yes” is when someone is offering you help or assistance. Practice accepting help in simple areas of your life – even if it is a friend helping clean up after a dinner. And all you need to do when someone offers help is say “Yes, thank you.” Practice saying “Thank you” whenever someone does something good for you. Beware of discounting or demeaning yourself by saying things such as “I feel foolish or helpless accepting your help.” Saying such things only reinforces that you won’t allow others to help you and that you don’t deserve it. However, when you say “Thank you” it creates a new habit.

Also, practice asking for help. When you allow someone to help you, you reinforce your value and raise your self-esteem. You also give joy to someone else for helping you and you create a stronger sense of community, belonging and connection. If you feel it is wrong or bad to accept help, ask yourself why it is okay to help others.

5. Reducing guilt
Guilt is a powerful tool which is often used by people to control others. There are the guilt-throwers and the guilt-catchers. We learn to catch the guilt thrown at us by our parents and eventually guilt becomes a way to manipulate us. In other words, if one of your parents or adult caretakers often used guilt to make you do something, then you most likely often fear feeling guilty (and its associated negative emotions and perceptions about yourself) and you are still controlled by guilt.

Also, whether or not you are consciously aware of it, people quickly identify if they can or cannot control you via guilt. Guilt implies that you are ‘bad’, have done something bad, or that you are inadequate – missing something or not doing or being enough.

When you feel guilty, you can repeat to yourself, “I am okay…It’s okay…Everything will be okay.” You can also acknowledge to yourself: “I have a right to be treated well…It’s okay to put myself first.” Of course, if you have a lot of resistance to making yourself a priority and believing that you are good enough, worthy and deserving, then consider working on identifying and releasing the subconscious cause of the guilt. Go here and watch this video.

Also, when dealing with people who try to use, control or manipulate you via guilt, consider how much truth there is to their statements about you and how much of those statements are actually reflections of their issues and insecurities or jealousies. If there is truth to their statement, make the necessary adjustments in your behavior.

As noted above in step 3, practice what you will say to the other person to stop them from using guilt against you. For example, “I know you care about me and enjoy my company but I also need time for myself. And so, I am choosing to stay home, relax and take care of myself tonight.” “I know you need me but I also need to take care of my health. I am staying home.”

If you need more help handling and overcoming guilt, read these articles:

“Are you guilty”

“Letting go of guilt and shame”

Lastly, avoid running away from setting your boundaries; they are your protection and build your self-respect.

Take action now!

Take care of it and it will take care of you!

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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