If you have days where you reflect back before you fall asleep and realize that you spent your entire day doing things for others and very little for yourself, this blog post is for you. A common problem many of us millennials struggle with is setting boundaries with others. We give our time to so many different things and people and neglect ourselves in the process.
Do your relationships with other people sometimes feel one-sided? Are you constantly finding yourself fixing other people’s problems or agreeing to do things you don’t want to do? I’ve been there. I spent a good portion of my life-giving to others more than myself. In my mid-twenties, I started to diligently work on myself, I started this blog, a side business, and I was absorbing all the personal development content I could daily.
My personal development journey helped me realize that I needed to start living my truth and setting better boundaries. I started to notice that other people’s emergencies were not my personal urgencies. I realized that I am always in control of how my time is spent. Any pressure I feel was created in my own head and I have the power to overcome it. I want to help you realize that as well. On the other side of that realization is happiness and inner peace.
Let your core values determine how you set boundaries. What may be a big issue for you might be small for someone else, but that does not mean that you’re overreacting to a situation. This post will cover the basics of setting boundaries in relationships, whether it’s with your friends, family, significant other, or co-workers.
1. You have every right to say “NO”
Do you find yourself saying yes because you are worried that people won’t like you? Do you say yes because you are avoiding conflict? Those are not valid reasons to say yes to something. One tip that helped me start saying no more was thinking of myself like I would a friend. For instance, I like to take a step back and think “If a friend was in my position, what advice would I give them?”
No is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone a reason. If you chose to share a reason, that’s your decision. Don’t allow others to dictate your time. Time is our most precious commodity. Once it passes, it doesn’t come back. If you know that you haven’t completed your top three tasks for the day, then you should be saying no to every and anything that will stop you from accomplishing your daily goals. You must be firm with your priorities if you want to be consistent and see results in a timely manner.
Communicate your honest feelings to people in a polite manner. You’ll be surprised how receptive people can be when you share your truth. People should respect your decision and trust that you’ve made the best decision for yourself when you say “no.” Our “no” helps us to restore and recharge our energy so we can say “yes” to the things that fuel our fire.
2. Stop avoiding conflict
This one is tough. No one enjoys confrontation. Often, we know that just ignoring a message or letting the sly comment your sister said go will probably make the conversation go over easier, but is that fair to you? Communicating the issue at hand will hopefully stop the conflict from arising again in your life. Problems need energy to live. The more energy you give something the more it expands. We don’t have to stress and agonize over every problem we have. We can choose to solve the problem, articulate a clear decision, and move on.
There are situations where silence is golden but there are also situations where speaking up and advocating for yourself is needed. We all have felt that distasteful feeling in the pit of our stomach when something doesn’t sit right with us. How many times do you give in to that feeling and express yourself? Your instincts are powerful, they’ll help you determine when someone is pushing your boundaries, and when it’s time to draw one.
3. Be assertive when you communicate your boundaries
This is for all the people (like me sometimes) who end a sentence with a questioning tone. It’s that tone of voice that comes across as timid when you really should be coming across decisively. A great way to come across more confidently is to speak in “I” statements. My therapist gave me this tip and it has been LIFE CHANGING. No one can tell you how you feel. That’s the power of “I” statements. If you communicate how an incident made you feel and don’t make assumptions about others, you’ll realize that difficult conversations with others go over easier. An assertive response is confident, concise, and uses non-negotiable language.
An example of an assertive sentence is: “I feel __ when you __ because __. I would prefer if you ___.”
4. Be respectful of your time
One of my friends once got up during the start of this workshop at a conference we attended. It was one of the most boss things I’ve ever seen anyone do. She decided that this workshop wouldn’t benefit her so she left. Meanwhile, I stayed because I didn’t want to upset the presenter. Long story short, the workshop was whack and looking back I wish I left too.
If you’re hanging out with a group of people and you don’t want to be there anymore, leave. If someone asks you to complete a work task and you’re on a break, communicate that. If you need focused, uninterrupted work, but your friend keeps calling you, communicate with them, and put your phone on silent.
Too many of us complain about distractions but don’t take responsibility for allowing ourselves to get distracted. Don’t beat yourself up either, instead practice self-compassion and evaluate where you can improve. If you need help with being more respectful of your time and getting more important tasks done daily, book a free strategy session with me here.
5. Use these boundary prompts next time you find yourself in any of the below situations:
- Setting boundaries with time: “I’m unavailable during that time, but would love to find a time that works for us both.”
- Setting boundaries with food/drinks: “I’d prefer not to, but I’d love (x,y,z) instead.”
- Setting boundaries with emotional dumping: “I want you to know I care about you and your feelings, but I’m not in a place where I can handle this right now.”
- Setting boundaries with talking about hard things: “I’m not ready to talk about this right now, but I appreciate you wanting to be there for me. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”
- Setting boundaries with unwelcomed commentary on life/appearance: “It makes me uncomfortable when you comment on my personal choices, please refrain from doing so.”
- Setting boundaries with asks: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I won’t be able to do that.”
- Setting boundaries with general discomfort: “I don’t feel comfortable with that.”
- Setting boundaries with catching up with someone when you don’t want to: “I appreciate you reaching out. My plate is full at the moment. Let’s connect when things slow down a bit”
Make sure to save your favorite response prompts to your phone, so you can easily access them when needed.