How are you at managing your boundaries?

18th June 2019

How good are you at asking for what you want or explaining what you need?

For many of us, myself included, it can feel hard to ask for what we need. In those rare moments when I’ve got it spot on; I’ve felt just how liberating it can be to be upfront and straight forward. Like the time recently when I told a close friend that I’d like some more appreciation for something big, that I felt I’d achieved. It worked a treat. The world didn’t implode in on itself; there was no bad feeling and the relationship remains intact.

What we’re talking about here are ‘boundaries’ – which we can roughly describe as what we consider to be OK with us, and what’s not OK with us. There are so many ways in which we let our boundaries be compromised;

  • We say ‘yes’ to things when we really want to say ‘no’
  • We take on stuff, knowing we’re already under pressure
  • We say nothing when someone says or does something that doesn’t fit with our values
  • We don’t say what’s really on our mind, fearing that to be honest would somehow upset the applecart.

We learn a lot about managing our boundaries form a very early age. As children we watch and absorb what ‘the big people’ do and how they act. We unconsciously pick up how people respond to us and we make some critical decisions about how appropriate it is for us to ask for what we need.

If you struggle to manage your own boundaries, it might be helpful to reflect on your own early experiences and see if you can spot any patterns of thinking or behaving that were laid down at an early age. I know for me, my Mum was a very gentle accommodating person and my hunch is, my tendency to step back, go with the flow and stifle my own needs, is probably due in part to what I observed and picked up from her.

Understanding the roots of your patterns around boundaries, won’t necessarily make them change easy, but it will give you a sense of what you’re leaning against. When we get to this point in the coaching/psychotherapeutic discussion I normally suggest that you ‘let that percolate’. Let the awareness sink in. Sit with it for a while – see what you make of it.

So, if this is resonating, it might be helpful to take it away and reflect, cogitate and see what sense you can make of it for yourself. When the time feels right, you can start to consider ways of changing or of letting go of these unhelpful patterns. Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Give yourself a break and just see what you can come up with.

If you’d like to do work on getting better at explaining and ‘holding your own boundaries’, get in touch. I’ll be happy to have an initial chat and we can take things from there.