Hey there, it’s Aly Hathcock – your favorite certified life coach. Today, we’re diving into the topic of how to set healthy boundaries. Yup, that’s right. Boundaries. Some of us celebrate when we hear the word. As women, some of us shudder and get an icky feeling. A lot of us get confused and don’t know why we need healthy boundaries and how to set boundaries.
WHAT ARE BOUNDARIES?
Imagine that you’re on the highway driving towards a goal in your life.
The yellow and white lines on the road, the guardrails, and the “exit closed barriers” are all boundaries. Boundaries are the guidelines and rules that you put in your life to ensure your physical, mental, and emotional safety as you work towards your goals.
They make sure you stay in your lane and everyone around stays in their proper lanes so no wrecks happen.
Essentially, boundaries keep you from driving your car (or your life) off the road or in the wrong direction to ensure maximum safety, comfort, connection, and resource optimization as you work to create a life you love.
HOW DO YOU SET BOUNDARIES?
These are 4 questions I ask myself when setting healthy boundaries.
1 – What is your goal? What do you need or want or desire? For example, two of my goals are 1) maintaining my wellbeing and 2) completing my “hell yes” project.
2 – What do you need in order to reach your goal? What needs to be a priority in your life so you can reach and/or maintain your goals? For my wellbeing, my ongoing needs include play, rest, “off” hours, and encouragement & support. For my “hell yes” project, I need money and uninterrupted time.
3 – What obstacles are keeping you from getting these needs met? What’s consuming your resources (time, money, energy, etc) that keep you from getting your needs met?
People who criticize me, belittle my worth, make me feel less than or unsafe, disrespect me are obstacles to me receiving encouragement & support I need in order to maintain my wellbeing. Essentially, toxic people are the obstacles.
People who use shame to try to control or manipulate me are obstacles to play, rest, and uninterrupted time.
Answering client messages throughout the day is an obstacle to me getting uninterrupted time to work on my “hell yes” project.
Going to Target when I’m feeling emotional or have had a bad day is an obstacle to the financial resources I need for my “hell yes” project.
4 – How can I minimize these obstacles? How can I remove, or at least mitigate, to obstacles that keep me from ultimately accomplishing my goals?
Now, it’s time to create some boundaries!
Based on my answers to the questions above, here’s some boundaries – or limits – I’ve set.
I minimize contact with toxic individuals and minimize the time I spend with them. This may practically look like not answering the phone when a toxic person calls unless I know what they need. It also looks like not spending long periods of time with toxic people.
If someone uses shame to try to control or manipulate me or how I spend my resources, I remove myself from the situation. This may look like hanging up the phone, literally walking away from a situation, or just saying “no.”
I answer client messages only during a specified time of day, so that I can have time uninterrupted by messages throughout the day.
I don’t go to Target when I’m feeling emotional or have had a difficult day.
Now, hear me out, these are just a few of the boundaries I’ve set to help me create a life I love. It certainly is not a comprehensive list of all the boundaries that are in my life.
Per each goal/desire/value/need you have, there are a couple different types of boundaries that you may need to set.
These are some more of the boundaries I’ve set to maintain my mental well-being, divided up by category.
- TIME BOUNDARIES – how much time you spend with someone or doing something
For example, if play is an important value or need you have for your well-being, a boundary you might have is only working 9 AM – 6 PM and not working on the weekends
- PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES – physical proximity, sexuality, and how much space you share with others
Part of my long-term wellbeing involves balancing and maintaining equal levels of commitment, physical intimacy, and emotional/mental connection with my romantic partner. Because we emotionally bond through sex, I don’t have sex with men I’m not committed (aka married) to.
- CONVERSATIONAL BOUNDARIES – topics I’m open or not open to discussing
I don’t talk about topics that easily turn heated or divisive with friends and family. Generally, this means I avoid talking about politics.
- RELATIONSHIP BOUNDARIES – guidelines between you and your close friends, roommate, and/or partner
Both my roommate and I want to feel safe (physically and emotionally) in our apartment. A need we both have that helps create that safety is 1) respect and 2) food. Therefore, we don’t eat each other’s food without asking first, because 1) that would be disrespectful and 2) the other person may need/want that food.
- PERSONAL BOUNDARIES – limits you place on yourself based on your own self-awareness and needs
For me, this looks like not going shopping when I’m stressed out or in a bad mood. It looks like going to bed by midnight every night to preserve my energy and not
- CONTENT BOUNDARIES – things you will and won’t consume on TV, online, podcasts, etc.
I don’t (intentionally) watch or listen to negative news more than once per week to preserve my mental health and sanity. I listen to or watch something encouraging or positive every day.
This is not a comprehensive list of all my boundaries that I have set to help maintain my mental wellbeing. It does give you a starting point to help you set boundaries that help you achieve your goals and create a life you love.
WEEKLY ACTION STEP
This week, pick ONE of your goals and set at least one boundary in each category to protect the road you’re on to achieve that goal.
Setting boundaries can be hard – physically and emotionally. The good news is that you do not have to do this alone. Schedule a 1:1 life coaching session with me so we can clarify your goals and help you set up some boundaries so that you can create a life you love. Click here to schedule your session or learn more right here.
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