We often read and talk about boundaries. These things which will hopefully keep us on track, safe and protected, whilst giving us scope to live well and roam. I imagine they are set up like invisible parallel lines. We can bounce around inside them and not step over the line.
But we can all find it tricky when somebody breaches our boundary. How do we enforce it? How do we tell them to back off? How do we say no to over committing ourselves when asked? It can be a hard thing to do.
I read something this week which made me feel a lot more comfortable about setting and holding a boundary. It is this:
The boundary is not for them.
It is for you.
Short of whacking somebody with a big foam hammer, we cannot control whether they breach our boundary. They may not even know they’ve crossed it. But we don’t have to, it’s not for them.
The boundary is for us. It is ours. This way of seeing it can make it far less a defensive position and more of a proactive position, and this can help us feel much more comfortable saying no.
If you spend a little time thinking over where you need a boundary and then practice your response (internal, physical or verbal) it might become easier to honour it for yourself.
“I know that I would enjoy that very much, but I need to go now”
“I wish I could help, thank you for asking, and I hope somebody else will be able to step in”
“I’ve learned I have to take better care of myself so, I’m sorry, but I can’t”
Think of it like a meter. When you have reached your preset, you’ve nothing more to spend.