How to set boundaries and take control of your life
The thing that can make me fire up inside is when other people say their opinion without spending 2 seconds to consider “Could this make Anna feel like a joke?”. Or worse. People who spread negativity like they’re spreading jelly on a soggy peanut butter sandwich. All over the place.
So what does this have to do with you wishing that you could put on your big girl panties? So you can steer your life in any direction you want like a sailor on the sea?
Because if you don’t speak up and say “Why did you say that? That made me sad” their words of can stick with you and make you sink like the iceberg in Titanic.
There was a time when my friend almost choked on her ham and cheese panini because I told her that I believe in myself. Instead of telling her that it hurt my feelings I laughed it off because I thought ‘Holy hotdog, did she just do that?’.
Afterward, every time I had to believe in myself, her face choking on a panini would show up haunting me.
Is her reaction something that belongs to me? Heck no, because I do believe in myself. But her reaction stuck with me because I didn’t stand up for myself. She didn’t believe in herself, that’s why she’d rather choke in her panini than support what I said. If I stood up for myself I had 1. said: No Bueno to her opinion and 2. been aware that her opinion didn’t align with me.
So, in a perfect world it should have played out something like this:
Me: “You know what? I believe in myself”. Friend: Choking on her ham and cheese panini and laughing it off. Me: Removing cheese from my cheek and saying: “Your reaction was hurtful and you make me feel like I shouldn’t believe in myself. I don’t like that”. Friend: She looks baffled and says “I’m so sorry I don’t know what got into me. Of course, you’re good enough, you’re gonna crush it!”.
It’s a happy ending for everyone (confetti flying from the ceiling).
I want you to think of a time where your friend said something hurtful to you. Instead of speaking up you put your tail between your legs and didn’t do anything.
How did it make you feel? Does it show up as a vivid memory and make your palms sweat every time you’re in a similar position?
Why are you scared of standing up for yourself?
When you’re faced with a choice to either speak up or stay quiet a specific fear will come to mind. Will she still like me if I tell her that this isn’t okay?
Imagine that you wake up with bloodshot eyes and drag your feet into the kitchen. You see the mac n’ cheese casserole from last night is still sticky in the sink. Even though your honey promised that it would be clean and in the cabinet when you woke up.
If you’re in the honeymoon face you’ll swallow your disappointment. Your relationships still new and you don’t wanna cause trouble. So you take a deep breath, suck it up and grab a sponge. Yet, if it’s your husband of 24 years you won’t hesitate and yell “You promised to do the dishes last night? You know I’ve had a terrible nights sleep and I’ve got a french fry stuck in my hair from always cooking. If you don’t come down here and clean up the freaking mac n’ cheese you can pack up your shit and leave.”
It’ll always be easier to speak up to a person you know won’t leave you like your mom, your spouse or your best friend. The times it becomes tricky is if you’re unhappy with your boss, your neighbor or your teacher. The fear of them firing you, giving you a bad grade or letting their dog poop in your front lawn can be enough for you to stay quiet.
What happens if you set boundaries?
I wanna share I quote that I love by Brene Brown. “The most compassionate people that I have interviewed were also the absolutely most bounderied”.
Brene explains that if we don’t set boundaries and tell people what they can and can not do, we become resentful and hateful. Meaning if you don’t tell your boyfriend that you’re disappointed that he didn’t do the dishes 1. he might do it again because you didn’t say anything and 2. you’ll end up annoyed with him because you’ll think he’s doing it on purpose.
Yet if you choose to kiss him on the cheek and say: “Honey, it makes me sad when you tell me you’ll clean up the mac n’ cheese and then you don’t”. He’ll grab your hand and say “My bad I forgot. I’ll do it right now”.
Because you set this boundary you’ll be more kind and loving towards him.
Setting boundaries is a challenge. Yet imagine telling someone to kindly respect you? This will leave you with utter love for yourself and that person. I say it’s a win-win.
When people know what you like and dislike it’s easier for them to love you.
I was once traveling with a friend and I thought everything was swell. But when we came home I found out that she’d been texting our mutual friend. She was unhappy on our trip but didn’t tell me. Finding out that she’d been complaining to someone else made me uncomfortable and angry. How was I supposed to know when she chose not to talk about it?
This made me unsure of her because now I never know if she speeks the truth or not. See how honesty would have been best for everybody?
The interview with Brene is down below. Do yourself a life changing favor and check it out!
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Now I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘That’s all great Anna but how do I learn to set boundaries when I’m so afraid?” You know what? I’m so glad you asked because I’ve created a step by step guide that’ll show you how to practice setting boundaries.
Step nr 1. Journal
Keep I journal so you can track times where you we supposed to set boundaries but didn’t. Be very specific and write when it was, who it was with and why it was hard for you to set the boundary.
Step nr 2. Identify your fear?
It’s important to address why you didn’t set your boundary. It’s usually because of an underlying fear of someone not liking you or being left alone.
Step Nr 3. Show up with love
When you have addressed your fear you gotta replace it with something loving. Be realistic, is it true that your friend will turn her back on you when you tell her she hurt you? No. You’ll probably become better friends because of your honesty. Being honest and setting boundaries is a strength.
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
What’s the biggest insight that you’re taking away and, most important, how can you put that insight into action right now?
Leave a comment below and let me know.
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