Book: Reflections

Reflections - bringing attention to your daily life by Désirée Steinmann

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Reflections of the Week

Is it time to set boundaries?

2009-10-11 10:00 (comments: 0)

For me this week’s theme was definitely Christmas. I started to wrap presents with nice paper and beautiful ribbons, sent the first packages to friends and family further away, and started to write my private annual review of the past year. This time of the year is filled with preparation, making plans with the whole family, organizing, shopping and often being stressed during the so called “quiet season”.

During conversations last week, I heard from many clients how they are looking forward to seeing their whole families again. Many are traveling long hours to be there with their loved ones. Underlying all that anticipation some people also had fears or concerns. They remembered last year’s long conversations - sometimes intense times where many boundaries were overstepped intentionally or not. “…stories from the past are being told, that make me uncomfortable…” or “…my parents keep asking me when we are going to have a baby…” or “…my mother in-law is always trying to manipulate me…” or “…my parents still try to tell me what to do, and I am 35 years old!...” and many more.

Are you sometimes in a situation where actions or words of other people make you feel uncomfortable or even give you a stomach ache or tight shoulders? Then it is time to set boundaries!

Boundaries are a type of quality standards that you define as yours and that you ask people around you to respect. This is a process and you might run into some difficulties on the way, but the result is worth the journey!

Here are some steps to get started:

  • Get clarity on your boundaries and what you are not willing to accept anymore - then raise the boundaries even a little higher!
  • educate people around you of your “new” standards, or inform them when they cross your boundaries - (It could sound like this:” I don’t want to be part of a conversation about someone else, when this person is not present” - or - “I am not willing to listen to you to as long as your raise your voice. Please lower your voice or talk to me again when you have calmed down” - or - “This is my private life and I am not going to discuss this here, please change the subject”.
  • If the individual still continues on, then demand they stop and, if the still don’t stop, walk away without any comments.

Try to do this with grace and love (especially love for yourself), and don’t get frustrated or demotivated if you don’t always find the right words in your first try. It is more important to be true to yourself and keep practicing than giving up and accepting that your boundaries are crossed too many times!

Really, this is a skill that can be mastered and you get better every time you give it a try. So, enjoy the upcoming gatherings with friends and family and why not start a conversation around boundaries as a good way to introduce your “new” personal standards?


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