Ah boundaries. The least sexy, yet most crucial element of, dating and relationships. Most of us understand this on a surface level, but find it REALLY DIFFICULT to set and enforce them. Why?
Well, this is my take on it…
When we are little girls, we are taught to be polite, be kind, be gentle, smile, and overall just be easy to get along with. Now, being kind and gentle and smiling aren’t inherently “bad” on their own. In fact, I believe that the inherent kindness, gentleness, etc characteristics of women is part of what makes us magical.
BUT when these messages of how we “should” be are drilled into us over and over again without also being told how important self-care is, what do you think this teaches us?
I’ll tell you what I think. I think it teaches us to put our feelings, wants, and needs on the back-burner to everyone else’s. And I think it grooms us to grow up to be people pleasers – and to get walked all over – in relationships of all kinds, but especially with men!
I talk to women all the time who have experienced someone saying or doing something that made them uncomfortable, but just couldn’t seem to speak up about it and set boundaries.
I honestly believe that setting boundaries is one of the hardest things for a woman to do but I also believe that it is a skill that can be learned. That’s the awesome news. You’re not shit out of luck because you “suck at boundaries”.
Setting and enforcing boundaries is a learned skill. One that with practice, you can master!
So, where do you start? How do you begin to unlearn the programming you’ve been fed your whole life? How do you learn to set and enforce boundaries?
Well this is your lucky day! Today I’m sharing with you exactly how to do that!
TIP #1: GET CLEAR ON YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES
Before you enter into a relationship, or start dating someone new, it is crucial that you take some time to get really clear on what your non-negotiables are. And I don’t mean about superficial things like the way someone looks.
I mean, thinking about what values are important to you in a potential partner. What kinds of behaviours are you not willing to tolerate based on these values. For example, if honesty is an important value to you, you are not going to tolerate someone who lies to you. And this goes the same for what you DO want in a partner as well. If you value communication, you are going to want to date someone who communicates well
TIP #2: TRUST YOUR GUT
The second tip is learning how to listen to – and trust – your intuition. Over the years, you may have become so used to being disappointed by men that you’ve stopped trusting yourself and started to question yourself.
When you start questioning your intuition, it opens you up to being used and walked all over. Worse even, you may become a target for a Narcissist who, as you question whether or not you have the right to be uncomfortable or upset about situations, gaslights you and makes you feel crazy. Let me be perfectly clear: refusing to tolerate mistreatment does not make you crazy, it makes you strong!
Learning how to reconnect with your inner guidance, Source, God, your gut, or your intuition – whatever you call it – is truly liberating. It’s an incredibly effective way to take your power back. When you practice listening to this inner voice, you will start to become aware on a conscious level when you’re feeling “off” about a person or situation and therefore will be better able to protect yourself from the energy vampires of the world – and the crappy relationships!
TIP #3: RESPONDING vs REACTING
The third tip is responding vs reacting. This is much easier said than done BUT just like trusting your intuition, learning how to respond vs react is a skill you can hone and master with practice.
This one takes a bit more patience which a lot of us goal-oriented, successful women struggle with – and also a much greater sense of self-control. It is much more difficult to take a few minutes to thoughtfully respond when you feel triggered than it is to just have a knee-jerk reaction in the moment. But as I said, it can be done and I’m going to share a tool with you that will help.
Learning how to thoughtfully respond to a situation that you are uncomfortable with, and communicate your thoughts and feelings in a calm manner, is kind of like having a super power.
Most men are used to women being more emotional than them, which is part of what makes us amazing honestly. It makes us amazing caretakers, Moms, girlfriends, wives, and friends.
When you are communicating boundaries however, being overly emotional is not necessarily the most effective way to get your point across. Because of the way women are perceived as being “too emotional and dramatic”, when you come to conversations around boundaries from a place of calm, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much more respect the people around you – especially men – show you.
The tool I want to share with you is called Stop, Breathe, and Ask, and it was created by one of my Mentors, Bruce D Schneider, founder of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, where I took my coach training program. The tool itself is very simple, but incredibly powerful.
Here’s how it works…when you feel triggered, before saying or doing ANYTHING you:
1) STOP: Stop yourself from reacting, speaking, acting out.
2) BREATHE: Take a deep breath (or 5). This allows the pre-frontal cortex – or the logical part of the brain – to come back online
3) ASK: Now that you’ve taken a few deep breaths, you are going to take a few moments to ASK yourself a few key questions:
- What am I feeling?
- What button might have been pushed?
- What is really going on here?
Tell me in the comments: what do you think about these three tips to setting boundaries? And what other tips to setting boundaries do you think should be added to this list?