THE POWER OF BOUNDARIES
#1: Decline Ultimatums
One of the most challenging things to do in life is to set and enforce boundaries for friends and family. The complicated thing about boundaries is that everyone’s boundaries are different. So, it follows that some people - even those who are close to us - may not always understand our boundaries and may sometimes get frustrated by them. When someone crosses a boundary, the path of least resistance is to disregard our boundary so as not to offend that person. Yet enforcing our personal boundaries is vital to maintaining balance in our relationships as well as a healthy self-esteem. The weak feeling we get after allowing others to walk all over us is evidence of this truth.
Establishing boundaries, however, doesn’t have to be harsh or include ultimatums. There’s a magical phrase that establishes boundaries in the most graceful and loving way possible: “I love you, but no.” Those five words communicate that, even though you’re not complying with another’s request or condoning their behavior, you still acknowledge and love them. Enforcing boundaries in this way - especially in relationships where boundaries have been crossed - instantly makes your relationships healthier. Most important, this includes your relationship with yourself. A subtle resentment toward others and toward yourself will fester when you disregard your personal boundaries.
Some people cross boundaries because they are unaware of them. Others try to see how far they can go before you’ll say something. In either case, if you want the people in your life to have respect for you, your time, and your priorities, the only way that will happen is if you respect yourself enough to say to them, “I love you, but no.” Boundaries keep loving relationships healthy. Without boundaries, an otherwise healthy relationship can drift into an atmosphere of manipulative control.
#2: Beware of Small Concessions
Being flexible and having the capacity to compromise are very useful tools in life. But we each have our own red lines where compromise devolves into resignation. We instinctively know when we’re allowing others to manipulate us. And in those moments, giving in to manipulation may seem easy and expeditious, but it puts us on the slippery slope of getting used to being manipulated. Repeatedly allowing this will inevitably bring us to the unfortunate state of barely even noticing that we’re being controlled. Whether it’s a big issue or a small issue, standing up to another’s manipulation with loving assertiveness does two things: First, it teaches them that manipulation isn’t going to work with you; and second, it reminds you that standing up for yourself feels good… and that results in better spiritual and mental health.
#3: Boundaries Lead to Balance
Once you get into the swing of setting and enforcing prudent boundaries with people, it usually doesn’t stop there. This empowering endeavor will carry over into your work life, your financial life, how you spend your leisure time, and even what and how much you eat and drink. Boundaries lead to a balanced life. The discipline it takes to set boundaries is paradoxically the very thing that sets you free. It’s what makes you a better manager of your time, your resources, and your health. And when you’re balanced, you can more effectively make the time for those things which matter most to you. Remember: To be there for others, you must first be there for yourself. Only then - with the help of boundaries - will you discover your own unique, balanced formula for living. And that is what will lead you to a life of sustained effectiveness, enjoyment, and fulfillment.
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