How to Set Boundaries
In this episode, you will learn:
- How to create a work-life balance
- 4 Keys to help you create practical boundaries
- 5 Questions to help you choose and set healthy boundaries
- 3 Steps to lead you towards creating balance and boundaries by raising your energy awareness
Creating More Balance
A day doesn’t go by where I don’t hear someone talking about the topic of work-life balance.
Is this really achievable?
Balance is not stagnant and rigid, it is fluid and ever changing.
So how do we strike a balance and maintain it?
Creating a work-life balance is much more than an intellectual pursuit. It’s a life skill that can teach us how to “go with the flow”, especially when big life changes or even transitions hit.
Balance is the state of our physical and energetic being. When we are aware of our energy and how it connects to our body, we can integrate the two and experience a state of inner balance.
Balance promotes a state of mind that is clear and present.
So what happens when we get thrown by a major life change?
What can you do to internally shift yourself towards a state of balance?
The very first step is to become keenly aware of when you’re feeling balanced or unbalanced. On an energetic level, we can tell when we are in balance and when we are out of balance. For example, when we are out of balance, we often feel: pressured, stressed, taxed, drained, uneasy, anxious, and depressed. When we are balanced we often feel a sense of well-being, ease, flow, peacefulness, and relaxation.
Both of these experiences shift our inner state of being, which is energetic in nature. When we feel unbalanced we often say that we have low energy and when we’re balanced we have positive energy and feel bright and vitalized.
I’d like to challenge you to not look for balance at the end of your day, but rather be curious about the quality of your energy. At the end of your day, you want to have the energy to feel motivated and inspired, grateful and appreciative about what you’ve accomplished for the day. Therefore, I invite you to think about what is it that gives you energy? Become curious and more aware of the quality of your energy levels throughout your day, so that you can experience an inner state of balance.
We live in a society where saying “Yes” is often the acceptable norm.
How frequently do you take on extra projects, problems, or work when your plate is already full?
Or perhaps you find yourself spinning several plates at once. What happens if the spinning stops? – the plates come crashing down! Are you aware that your plate is full and your juggling act is not sustainable?
Unfortunately, this is a common problem amongst my clients that leads us right into a conversation about boundaries. The first step in setting boundaries is to get clear about what is important to you and what it is that you want to achieve. Your values and priorities, and the urgency and importance of each project or goal, will define how much time and energy you need in a day, week, or month.
If you’re someone who tends to be overly committed, then boundary setting is essential to your success as as as for your personal accountability.
Are you a people pleaser?
Someone who all so often wants to please others to the point where they have to manage their own guilt and accomplishment If this is you the setting boundaries can sometimes feel harsh or limiting. The truth is, boundaries don’t have to be harsh or limiting and sometimes they just are.
The purpose of a healthy boundary is to create the space necessary to succeed in reaching your desired goals.
- Be Flexible – we live in a world where flexibility and continued re-assessment of work-life balance is essential to maintaining choice and being able to make a conscious decision to invite a new workaround when it’s called for. In order to have flexibility, you must first define your boundaries by allocated time for yourself or scheduled commitments that also have defined space for flexibility – I like to call it padding or a buffer. Have a few alternatives ready for when you’re faced with a challenge so that you can compromise or tap into a viable solution that works for you.
- Know Your Requirements – these are your non-negotiables and relate directly to your deepest and critically important values and priorities. They drive the creation of strong boundaries. Your ability to identify your non-negotiables and have awareness of them is imperative to your success. Knowing these requirements leads to values-based decisions.
- Create Space – creating a mental or physical space between yourself and an unhelpful distraction can help prevent overwhelm or derailment from your goals and priorities. Consider planning a vacation or quick get-a-way in order to create physical distance and space from a project or person. Re-prioritize your less important projects or goals for a specific period of time in order to create time distance. Or even decide to focus on one goal at a time to create mental space from other potential distractions.
- Invite Adaptability – your ability to be adaptable requires both self-awareness and flexibility. This can be what you need it to be – such as a firm strong boundary or a more relaxed boundary depending on the situation. It can look like having flexible management of your time and goals, having clear awareness and recognition of your limits, and the ability to prioritize new items as they arise while managing previous commitments.
Defining specific boundaries and identifying your values that inform them will help you create the framework you need to steer clear of falling into the people-pleaser trap that keeps you in a state of overwhelm and also leaks guilt into your accomplishment.
The good news is that you can still accomplish a lot and in less time and even be guilt-free when you learn to master the art of setting practical boundaries – it is certainly a creative process.
When we don’t set boundaries the person we most often disappoint is ourselves.
I invite you to reflect on the following questions, then choose one boundary, to begin with.
- Who do you most need to set boundaries with? (make a list if needed)
- Where do you need to set boundaries for yourself?
- Try asking, “If I say “yes” to that, then what will I be saying “no” to? Then, “If I say “no”, what will I be saying “yes” to?”
- What is the biggest thing that stops you from setting and maintaining your boundaries?
- Choose you! What 3 boundaries could you set to ensure your needs are met?
3 Steps to Raise Your Energy Awareness
1 – Become Aware of Your Energy – we are made of energy and when it is flowing we are free from pain, disease, and tension. These conditions are considered to be blocks or stagnation in our energy flow to where it gets thwarted and out of balance. There are several ways that you can begin to cultivate an awareness of your energy and it requires daily consistent practice.
You might want to consider meditation, mindful movement, or a simple practice of slowing down and paying attention to what is happening in your body and observe your energy levels throughout the day. You might also begin to notice how the quality of your energy shifts moment-to-moment, as it can feel bright and full and it can also begin to drop and become dull. The more you become familiar with your own energy, the more you’ll know how to cultivate it and keep it in balance.
2 – Know What Affects Your Energy – lots of things can affect your energy that ranges from your environment to the work you do and the people you surround yourself with. Pay attention to what gives you strength and nourishment and also feeds you positive energy, as well as what depletes your energy. Take inspired action to increase time spent on fulfilling activities, and limit your time on depleting activities and engagements.
3 – Create Balance Through Boundaries – one of the best ways to experience heightened energy is to create clear boundaries. As I mentioned earlier, setting healthy boundaries with yourself is the most important boundary that you will create.
What agreements do you make with yourself? What do you do to take care of yourself every day? For example, do you engage in activities that actively promote your energy like healthy eating, exercise, and mindfulness practice?
Do you have boundaries with technology, work, and social media? Or do you stay up all hours of the night constantly scrolling and reading, go to bed late and feel tired and depleted the next morning?
Practice also having healthy boundaries with others. Do you tend to overextend, over-accommodate or sacrifice yourself in order to be there for others? Do you give your energy and power away unknowingly? Do you feel the need to do this in order to be liked, accepted, or needed?
Consider the amount of time and energy you dedicate to yourself and your own creative passionate pursuits. How much attention do you invest compared to the amount of time and energy you give to others? What changes do you need to make in order to feel more whole, complete, and centered? Learn how to effectively communicate your needs to others who may drain you or expect constant access to your attention.
Consider what boundaries you need to set to create more balance. Boundaries aren’t like borders they’re not walls that block people out of our lives. Boundaries help us to be honest and authentic about where we want to place our time and focus. The best boundaries are clear, peaceful, and honorable to all people involved. They create containers of positive, focused energy where we can naturally experience balance and offer the best of who we are in any given situation.
Create “Energetic Boundaries” by considering making more than just “space” and “time” boundaries. Think of “energetic” boundaries that allow for the creation of a sacred space that is an energetic space to thrive, prosper and grow. Energetic boundaries can mean not taking work home with you or in your head – you can do this through grounding and releasing.
Energetic boundaries may also mean being honest with your loved ones about what you can do, and what you can’t do. It may require you to speak your truth and express your needs.
Striking a life-work balance is not a destination, it’s not something we arrive at one day – it’s a constant state of awareness and daily practice. This also holds true for the cultivation of healthy boundaries – as you’ll discover that it’s an important skill to be both flexible and adaptable – depending on the particular situation.
To avoid crashing and burning out – take time to listen to your body and your energy each day. Take small steps that you need to feel healthy, refreshed, and free. Small steps often are easier to integrate into positive daily habits like meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and conscious breathing.