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Little Steps To Managing Boundaries

By Jules Allan

We often hear about the importance of boundaries for our well-being.

We may find ourselves juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, taking care of our

families, our careers, our social lives, and so much more. We may often put the needs of

others before our own, which can leave us feeling depleted, overwhelmed and feel like we

don't have control over our lives. We may find ourselves overextending ourselves, feeling resentful, or getting hurt by others. It can be easy to get caught up in the expectations of others,

or to put our own needs last in order to please others. That's where boundaries come in. Establishing boundaries is crucial for our well-being and overall happiness.

But what exactly are boundaries?

In simple terms, boundaries are limits we set to protect our physical, emotional, and mental

well-being. External boundaries refer to the limits we set with others - for example, saying "no" to requests that don"t align with our values or taking a break from toxic relationships.

Internal boundaries, on the other hand, refer to the limits we set with ourselves - for

example, setting a boundary around negative self-talk or making time for self-care.

My experience of learning to say No!

I have often found it difficult to say no, to friends, family, partners, work, strangers, even the dog!

I was brought up to be "lovely", neglect my own needs in order to support others, my role in life, so I thought was to be a caretaker, friend to everyone. You have a problem? I'm here to help, you need a listening ear? I'll listen, you need support? my time? my energy? my skills? the shirt off my back? my heart? my soul? everything, I would give that until I had no more to give.

Then I burnt out and got very ill, I gently began a self-development journey, practiced yoga, went to therapy, stopped drinking and began practicing emotional sobriety. I started to learn that over giving, people pleasing for some of us can be a trauma response. Fawning, lovely word isn’t it, women especially in society are brought up to fawn, it’s what we are conditioned to be "lovely". Sometimes I feel lovely, other times I am definitely not lovely, I can feel resentful, sometimes I say yes when I’m shouting in my head to say no. I often change my mind when I have said yes and try and find the courage to say no.

Sometimes I can do this, sometimes I can't.

I'm learning to say no, I'm practicing my no muscle on small little things.

  • Would you like a cup of tea?

- No thank you...

(Phew that was an easy one!)

  • Would you like to meet up on Saturday to help me move house?

- No I'm sorry I can't I have plans

(argh, guilt, guilt)

  • Oh right, well I have loads to do and no one can help me, what am I going to do, I was counting on you? (guilty shamey feelings from remembering my old behaviours when I would have said yes)

- I can see you are under a lot of pressure

but I’m unable to change my plans,

I hope you find someone to support you

(heartbeats fast, feel sick, hide under

a duvet for a week)

If I had the space, energy, time & ability I would have helped, an authentic yes when I have capacity can be of great support to others. But I was unable to this time, little note to self, I'm not their removal service, I’m their friend. I can say no, I have the right to say no, If I don’t have the capacity to help, by saying yes to someone else to meet their needs I’m saying no to me and I put my needs second. Saying yes to myself is a win win for me and everyone else. If I'm in a good place everyone else will be benefit. Reserving my energy for things I can authentically say yes too!

Boundaries protect your time and energy.

When we don't set boundaries, we can easily get pulled in different directions and end up feeling drained and burnt out.

By setting boundaries, we can protect our time and energy and make sure we're spending it on the things that matter most to us.

Boundaries help you prioritize.

By setting boundaries, we can identify our priorities and make sure we're spending our time and energy on the things that align with our values and goals. This can help us feel more fulfilled and purposeful in our lives. Boundaries boost self-esteem: When we set boundaries, we're telling ourselves that our time, energy, and well-being are important. This can help boost our self-esteem and self-worth, which can have a positive impact on all areas of our lives.

Boundaries reduce stress.

When we're constantly saying yes to everything and everyone, it can lead to stress and overwhelm. Setting boundaries can help us reduce stress and create a sense of balance in our lives.

Boundaries improve relationships.

Setting boundaries can help us communicate our needs and expectations to others. This can lead to more honest and respectful relationships, where both parties feel heard and valued.

How to set a Boundary?

You are in a new relationship and your partner has a habit of texting you constantly

throughout the day, expecting immediate responses even when you're at work or with


While you appreciate their attention and affection, you're starting to feel overwhelmed and distracted by the constant notifications.

To set a boundary in this situation you might say something like….

“I really enjoy talking to you and staying connected, but I need to set some boundaries around my phone use. I'm finding that the constant notifications are starting to stress me out and make it hard for me to focus on other things. Can we agree to only text during certain times of the day, or can I let you know when I need some space to focus on work or other activities?"

By communicating your needs and setting clear boundaries around your phone use, you're showing your partner that you value your own time and mental space, while still maintaining a connection with them. You're also giving them the opportunity to respect your boundaries and work with you to find a solution that works for both of you.

5 Top Tips for setting a Boundary

  • Instead of making demands or blaming the other person, use "I" statements to express your own feelings and needs.

  • Use "I" statements to communicate your needs: Instead of making demands or blaming the other person, use "I" statements to express your own feelings and needs. For example, "I need some space right now" or "I feel uncomfortable when you speak to me like that"

  • When setting a boundary, it's important to be clear and specific about what you're asking for. Avoid vague or ambiguous language, and make sure the other person understands exactly what you mean.

  • Setting a boundary can be difficult, but it's important to approach the conversation with respect and assertiveness. Avoid being aggressive or confrontational, but don't back down from your needs and values either. If appropriate, offer a reason or explanation for your boundary. This can help the other person understand your perspective and be more willing to respect your needs.

  • Setting a boundary is only effective if you follow through on it. Be consistent and firm in enforcing your boundary, even if the other person protests or tries to push back.

What's the difference between internal and external boundaries?

  • Internal boundaries, refer to the limits we set with ourselves - for example, setting a boundary around negative self-talk or making time for self-care. External boundaries, on the other hand, refer to the limits we set with others - for example, saying "no" to requests that don't align with our values or taking a break from toxic relationships.

  • Internal boundaries are about understanding our own needs, thoughts, and feelings. External boundaries are about communicating those needs, thoughts, and feelings to others in a respectful and assertive way.

  • Internal boundaries are about being kind and compassionate with ourselves, even when we make mistakes or struggle. External boundaries are about respecting ourselves and others, even when we disagree or have different needs.

  • Internal boundaries are about trusting ourselves to make choices that are in alignment with our values and goals. External boundaries are about trusting others to respect our boundaries and make choices that are respectful and kind.

I believe that setting boundaries is an act of self-love and self-respect. When we set clear boundaries, we're telling ourselves and others that our time, energy, and well-being are valuable and deserving of protection. By prioritizing our own needs and values, we're able to live a more fulfilling and authentic life, with healthier relationships and a stronger sense of self.

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