New Year New Boundaries
The start of a new year can bring hope fueled by the anticipation of a fresh beginning. However, for some people the new year can bring frustration, doubt and fear. Frustration because of unfulfilled past goals, coupled with fear and doubt about how the current year will end. While these emotions are real, they don’t have to dictate your actions nor do you have to surrender to them. You can reduce your level of frustration, doubt and fear by creating boundaries. Whey you begin to establish boundaries in your personal and professional life you are better positioned to achieve your goals and experience personal peace because of the structure and order achieved through boundaries.
However, many people associate boundaries with limitations and restrictions when in fact, boundaries generate the opposite result –freedom. When healthy boundaries are established, they allow you to create a safe and productive environment were you are able to grow and develop in the areas you determine are important. Once you establish what you value, you are then ready to create healthy boundaries that support your values.
Questions to Consider When Creating Boundaries
- What are your goals?
- What boundaries need to be in place in order for you to reach your goals?
- What are you willing to accept and not accept from yourself and other people?
- How are you going to let others know when they have crossed a boundary?
- What are the consequences when you or others overstep the boundaries you have established?
- How will you determine when boundaries need to be revised?
- How will you prepare for resistance from others and yourself?
Boundaries in Relationships
Perhaps, you are in a relationship with someone who does not value your comments and constantly dismisses your suggestions to the point of talking over you when you express your opinion or completely ignoring you. Knowingly or unknowingly, a boundary has been established in the relationship. By not speaking up and taking action, you have allowed the other person to set up a boundary in your life. He or she has determined that they decide when you say something of value.
Freedom in Boundaries
An acceptable standard for establishing reasonable boundaries begins with self-respect and self-management. How you treat and govern yourself will serve as an indication to others on how they can and will treat you. More to the point, if you don’t respect yourself how can you expect others to respect you? A good starting point to establish reasonable boundaries is to begin with boundaries that are consistent with reasonable and acceptable behavior and don’t infringe on the right of others. Keep in mind that you cannot expect someone to respect a boundary that you don’t enforce. Maintaining boundaries is a continual process that requires implementation and maintenance.
Boundaries at Work
Consider, Sarah who works in an office where she is regularly partnered with another person to complete projects. Sarah’s partner consistently ignores deadlines and never contributes to the work but takes full credit at the end of the project. However, rather than confronting the person Sarah keeps quiet rather than address the issue. In this example, it’s clear that the other person has overstepped a boundary in the work relationship. However, because Sarah allows the person to continue with this poor behavior without addressing the issue she is partly to blame for her co-worker’s continued inappropriate behavior.
How to Address the Issue
To address the issue, you must first, realize that a boundary has been violated, and then address the issue by letting the person know that their behavior is unacceptable. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the behavior will change without you addressing the issue. In most, if not all cases the behavior will not change if you do not address the problem. When addressing the issue don’t sugar coat the matter or make apologies for the person’s behavior. Be firm and respectful but don’t back down. Be specific about the behavior that is unacceptable and let the person know why it is unacceptable and what you will do if they continue with their current behavior. If they value your friendship or working relationship, they will make the necessary adjustments to improve their performance.
If they change, great! If not, you have to be willing to take a stand for yourself, which might mean seeking assistance or distancing yourself from the situation. Keep in mind that the sooner you take action to correct the matter the sooner you are able to regain the power you relinquished by allowing the other person to violate your boundaries. This transition will not take place overnight, as true change requires time and work. Don’t be discouraged if you meet some resistance as you work to establish clear boundaries. It is only natural for people to resist change. However, the key to your success is being consistent in your actions. No matter where you find yourself, it is never too late to regain your freedom by establishing boundaries –start today!