It is not uncommon to hear someone say these days that they are overwhelmed and just plain worn out. Maybe this describes you. Too many commitments, too much responsibility and an abundance of stress all conspiring to sap you of your energy and joy on a daily basis.
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you:
- Say yes when you really want to say no.
- Commit to something just to avoid conflict.
- Consistently put your needs last in order to please others.
- Allow people to take advantage of you.
Setting boundaries is one of the best ways to make an immediate improvement in the quality of your life. It allows you to take back control of your time and maintain your priorities. Without appropriate boundaries in place, you end up over committing yourself, often to activities or causes that you don’t really care about, just so you won’t disappoint anyone. Obligations begin to replace priorities and your to-do list becomes filled with activities that are meaningless, taking valuable time and energy away from relationships and goals that are actually important to you. You can see the effects of poor boundaries not only in the quality of your personal life, but in your effectiveness on the job as well.
If you are a self-described “People Pleaser” and any of this seems to describe you, then you are certainly not alone. The good news is that you can start to make small changes in your behavior today by practicing these three things:
1. Learn how to say “no”. It is a little, but powerful word. Only commit to people and activities when you genuinely want to participate or to help someone out. If you find your motivation for saying yes is to avoid feeling guilty or to sidestep conflict, it is a perfect opportunity to stretch out of your comfort zone and say no. Stalling for time can also help; suggest that you need to check with your family, your boss or look at your calendar to give you the time you need to regroup and muster your courage to decline.
2. Know your priorities. Being clear on your goals and priorities provides you with very specific guidelines as to whether what you are about to commit to is in line with your best interest. It also gives you more confidence when saying no, knowing that you are choosing your commitments based on a deeply held set of values and priorities. Depending on the situation and the group, try sharing your priorities with others so they can understand how you are making your decision and see that it is not because of anything related to them.
3. Believe in yourself. Part of the underlying issue for many people is that they don’t believe they are worthy of being treated in a better, more loving way. Start with small steps. Begin to stand up for yourself, even if it is just to the guy trying to cut in line in front of you in the grocery store or to a co-worker who consistently takes advantage of your willingness to help. By asserting yourself in the small situations you will create a stronger sense of self-worth and it will also increase your ability to be assertive in other, more important situations.
Setting boundaries is not just an effective time management tool; it is an act of self-respect and self-love. It is an appreciation that you are not, in fact, a superhero. And when you treat your time and energy as valuable, other people will begin to do so as well. By being honest first with yourself, then with others, you will be able to live a more authentic life.
How about you? What tips do you have for setting better boundaries?
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