I’ve been thinking about boundaries lately. They are a bit of a buzzword at the moment. I think they are popular because they make us feel safe, give us rules to follow and create an illusion of control.
Here’s the thing though, I don’t think they are one and done things but rather nuanced, evolving and growing with us, so we need to tend to them the way we would a plant. What serves us now will not necessarily serve us in the same way as we grow.
And while they are super helpful at helping us build priorities, self-care and definition, they’re also ambiguous if not communicated well to others. It may help to remember that their response to our boundaries is not ours to carry, how we communicate them is. So here are my top tips for clear yet compassionate communication of boundaries.
- Use I statements.
For example, if being on time is an important value to instead of saying “you’re always late” try saying “I feel like I am unimportant when you’re late”.
- Show with action.
Some people simply are not capable of handling or respecting spoken boundaries..in cases like this use action to demonstrate your boundaries. For example, if someone constantly demands more of you than you have capacity to give, reduce your access to them. Avoid responding on non-essential requests. Always remove yourself from harmful situations.
- Be prepared for pushback.
Allow for space and time for others to get used to your boundaries without comprising it. Be willing to have a discussion because their boundaries may need to be discussed too.
- Be consistent and compassionate.
Keep using your ‘I’ statements to communicate. Be patient with others. And remind them that while you are caring for yourself, you still care for them. It’s both/and not either/or.