Do you have firm boundaries in your life around other people? Do you ever find that people you love are violating your boundaries, and that leaves you feeling disempowered, disappointed, and afraid of setting similar boundaries in the future? If this sounds like a familiar story, this episode is for you.
Today, we’re talking about how to set boundaries. Our boundaries are for us, and they will be violated from time to time. However, it’s 100% up to us how we choose to implement boundaries and decide what we want to make them mean.
Tune in this week to discover how to set the boundaries you need to design a life you truly love. I’m sharing how to know when you need to set a boundary, when you don’t, and I’m giving you a new perspective from which to view your boundaries, so you can uphold them in a way that honors you and gets the results you want for yourself.
Hi there. Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. My name is Natalie Bacon, and I’m an advanced certified mindfulness life coach as well as a wife and mom. If you’re here to do the inner work and grow, I can help. Let’s get started.
Hello my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I am so happy to be here with you today. I have to say that whenever life is throwing me curveballs, coming and recording a podcast is so grounding to me because I’ve been doing it for so many years. I truly feel like I have a strong relationship with you, and you make that possible. So thank you so much for being here. I genuinely, genuinely appreciate it.
Today, I want to talk with you about how to set boundaries. This comes up a lot in Grow You and my coaching program. You can join us at nataliebacon.com/coaching. This month we are diving into how to become your own best friend. Boundaries relates to becoming your own best friend because part of becoming your own best friend is repairing the relationship you have with yourself and prioritizing that over any other relationship.
So often we love others at our own expense. When a boundary is violated, we have trouble following through with it or even setting it because we are focused on the other person instead of being focused on what is true for us. So I’m going to talk with you about when to set a boundary, how to set a boundary.
Then if you want help with something you’re struggling with with boundaries, I am doing all of the coaching inside Grow You in the month of July. So I highly, highly suggest joining now so I can help you with whatever you are struggling with.
When to set a boundary. Okay. Boundaries are something that you set just because you want to. It’s not something that you need to justify. But it’s also not something to punish someone else for. So you’re not trying to control someone or show them or punish them or manipulate their behavior.
Every single person who’s an adult has agency. So you can think, feel, and act however you want, and so can anyone else. So you could walk out onto the street right now and someone could punch you in the face. They could do that, right? They have agency to do that.
Now, you probably have a boundary that if someone punches you in the face, you run away from them. You call the police or you seek help, right? Those are things that you’re going to do if someone hits you in the face, and that is a boundary. Someone’s coming into your space and in a way that you do not want them to. There are consequences for that for you. You’re going to follow through with that.
Now, that does not mean that you walk outside and go up to everyone on the street and tell them that hey if you punch me in the face, this is what I’m going to do. So I think we get confused about boundaries. Because a lot of times we think it’s a boundary situation, but it’s really not. It’s we have a rule for how someone else should behave.
So it’s not a boundary if your husband doesn’t take out the trash, for example. You might really want him to take out the trash, but if he doesn’t, there’s no boundary violation there. He’s not coming into your space in a way that you don’t like. There’s nothing you can do other than make requests of him. I’m all for requesting people to do things for you. But if they don’t and it’s in a way where they’re coming into your space, that’s when you want to create a boundary.
So let me talk with you about how to create a boundary. Then we’ll go through some examples. You want to make a request. The request is hey, you talk to me in a way that I don’t like. I would just really prefer if you stopped. I don’t like when you swear at me. Please, I want you to stop. That’s a request. There is no kind of ultimatum. There’s no consequence. It’s simply a request. I think that’s a great first step.
After that, though, if this person is not kind of honoring your request, which is totally within their agency, they might want to swear at you. But you, loving yourself being your own best friend, don’t want to be sworn at. You don’t want to be around someone who’s swearing at you. So after you’ve made the request and the request still isn’t followed through by with the other person, which is within their agency, again, you want to come up with a boundary.
A boundary includes not only your request, but also a consequence and a follow through. So the consequence might be if you swear at me again, I’m going to leave the room. I’m going to go for a drive. I’m going to leave in some way. Then you have to follow through with that. Because if you don’t follow through, it’s just a roading the relationship with yourself that you have even further.
One thing that I see comes up with boundaries is the emotion fueling you. You want to try to not set boundaries from strong negative emotion like hate. Instead, love would be the most ideal emotion to set a boundary from, but in some cases if someone’s really swearing at you, it might be hard to get to love. But you might be able to get to compassion and curiosity. So pay attention to that emotion fueling you. Remember that you not only make the request, but you’ve also made the consequence and follow through.
I say keep making requests. But what you don’t want to do is make them mean anything about your feelings when someone doesn’t follow through. So, so often we make it mean something about us and our relationship when husband doesn’t do what we want, doesn’t take out the trash. I’m all for the requests. But when they don’t do the thing, just don’t make it mean anything about yourself. If the thing that they’re doing is coming into your space in a way that you don’t like, that’s when you can set the boundary.
One key thing to understand here is that no one else really has to understand your boundary fully. So you can explain it to the other person if you want. You can say hey, I’m doing this for me. I’m on this growth, self-love journey, and it’s just something that I probably should have been doing in the past even with the swearing. But now it’s time for me to do this for me.
Or you don’t have to, right? It’s like going up to everyone on the street and letting them know if they punch you in the face, you’re going to take action and leave and then call the police. Don’t really have to explain that. You get to decide when you want to explain the boundary. A lot of times we assume that we have to, but if you use the guy on the street who punches you example, you definitely can see that not all boundaries need an explanation.
Another important thing to remember when you’re setting a boundary is you want to put the focus on you. Meaning make it about who you want to be in circumstances that you don’t like. So I don’t really like when someone swears at me. Who do I want to be in a circumstance that I don’t like? Who do I want to be when someone is swearing at me? I want to love myself. If it’s someone that I genuinely love, I also want to love that person. But I love myself first and foremost, and the most loving thing I can do for myself is to leave that situation.
Boundaries are more rare than I think we think. But on the other hand, I see people not setting boundaries when it is a boundary violation. So I love to use the swearing example because that does come up in relationships. I’m not talking about abusive relationships. I’m talking about just behavior that we don’t like.
So it might even be husband is in a really bad place. He’s really negative about his job every single day. Circumstances you don’t like, who do you want to be? It might be that you say to yourself all right, I can listen to husband for 15 to 30 minutes every night after he gets home from work. That’s my max for me to be able to love myself, for me to be able to love my husband, for me to be able to be present and show up in my family with the attitude that I want to show up in. I can handle 15 to 30 minutes of his complaining after work, and that’s it.
That might be a boundary that you don’t even mention to him. It might be just that after 15 to 30 minutes, you change the subject, or you do leave but you make it about you. Okay. I’m so sorry that you’re having this bad day. I hear you, and you validate what he’s going through. Then you go do something else. You go be with the kids, you go make dinner, you go to your workout class, whatever it is.
You can see how it’s really about someone in your circumstances behaving in a way that you don’t like, and you’re not trying to control him. You’re not trying to say hey, you need to do mindset work. You can’t be negative anymore. But it is something that you might say hey, when you complain about your job every day after work, it’s really hard for me to manage my mind. It would be so great if you try not to do that every single day. That’s the request, right?
Your husband may or may not follow through with that, again, because he has agency. You just have to decide what’s the consequence and what am I going to follow through with. Not to punish him, not to make it mean he’s bad, right, but to love you yourself and to be able to recognize when you want to leave that situation.
Another example. You may have had boyfriends or example-boyfriends in the past where you decided not to have contact with them when they contact you. This is something that you never even needed to tell them. You just stop replying and stop engaging. This boundary is for you.
Remember, there doesn’t have to be a lot of drama around this. It doesn’t have to be this big thing. Like I can remember dating guys where there was a lot of drama around it. It was really more about me trying to manipulate their behavior and get them to change. Of course, they didn’t change. If I could teach you how to change someone, I would just do that. But of course, we can’t change other people.
So in this case, you could simply just decide I’m going to stop engaging with this person because I don’t like how they’re treating me. That’s it. Recently in Grow You I coached a client whose friend was being really critical of her every time they were together. This would be a great boundary situation. Okay. She said, “Well, my friend is making me feel so bad. So down.”
That’s the part we had to clean up because her friend can’t possibly make her feel bad. No one can make you feel bad. But it can be something that you just don’t want to be around. So it would sound like it’s so hard for me to be around this person because of all of the mindset work I have to do when I’m around them. So my choice is I don’t want to be around them. That just is a conversation you have with yourself. But the other person isn’t creating your feelings. You are creating your feelings with the story that you’re telling.
So in this case it was a situation where the client wanted to have a boundary and not see the friend as much, but only after she cleaned up the thoughts and feelings work where she took responsibility for how she was feeling. Then it actually became so much easier for her to limit her time with her friend because she wasn’t feeling bad about it. She wasn’t thinking that she was being a bad friend. She was thinking, “Oh, this is me just choosing who I want to spend my time with, what kind of people I want to be around.” We don’t have to justify that ever.
But what we don’t want to do is think that other people are creating our feelings, or that they need to change in order to fit the kind of script that we have for who they should be in the world. They’re doing the best that they can. That’s just something as humans we all have to accept.
The cleaner you are in accepting it, meaning the more open you are about accepting it and the less resistance you have, the lighter all of this will feel. I can remember boundaries and all of this work feeling so heavy and messy and like what we call dirty pain where there’s a lot of suffering because there’s so much judgment.
So if this is a little bit foreign to you, and I’m speaking a different language with the clean pain and the dirty pain, we have all of these lessons inside Grow You. Just know that if you’re new to starting boundaries, they’re rare. But when they’re needed, they’re so important for you to maintain a healthy, wonderful, close intimate relationship with yourself.
A boundary is not an effort to control others. It’s also not an out of saying no. So instead of being honest and saying no, I don’t want to go do that thing. You say oh well, I’m just gonna set a boundary and not talk to her. So you just want to be clear of your reason. What is your reason for setting the boundary? You want to make it about you. I’m someone who doesn’t want to be around someone who is swearing at me because I love myself, and I might love that other person. I want to keep loving that other person. So I need to remove myself in order to keep loving them.
I remember setting boundaries with my dad who suffered from alcoholism, for gosh, his whole life almost. Once I got clear on boundaries, it was so much easier to love him. I just let him be an alcoholic, which, of course, he was already doing. He was already drinking a lot and making his life decisions that I would never make. It was all okay, and I got to love him. That meant if I sensed he was drinking, I wasn’t around him. I did that for me. Not in an effort to get him to stop drinking.
Of course I requested hey, what do you think about stopping drinking? Right? It’s not like he had never considered that idea. It’s not like he had never heard of AA or rehab or all of these other programs. He was very smart. He was a dentist. Very educated. Had lots of opportunities to stop drinking. He didn’t want to stop drinking. Right? His brain was so in that loop. That’s what happens with addiction.
But here that’s kind of like a more extreme example with the alcoholism. But anytime someone is in your space in a way that you don’t like, you get to create a boundary for you, not to try to control the other person. From love or at least from compassion or curiosity so that you’re not trying to blame them for your feelings. That’s where it kind of feels icky.
If you’re saying oh, this friend is so critical of me, and you’re blaming her for how you feel. Then if she’s responsible for how you feel, then you’re responsible for how she feels. Then you don’t want to set the boundary because you don’t want to hurt feelings. It’s just one big misunderstanding.
What I mean by that is we all create our own feelings. So when you set a boundary, that other person may be upset. They may not like it. But that’s for them to figure out. I know that that can be hard if you’re new to setting boundaries. But I’m telling you on the other side of that, your relationship with yourself is so much better that often the relationship with the other person is also so much better. Because you have such clear boundaries and because you love yourself and you act from a place of love.
It’s kind of like dancing where we’re used to doing a dance with a certain person. So maybe if someone is swearing at you, you’re used to allowing them to swear at you, and you stay. That’s the dance that you’re in. So that’s what they’re used to. So when you set a boundary, it stops the dance. You’re turning on different music. They can be really taken aback because they’re not used to that dance.
That’s okay. That’s why if you do it from love for yourself and you do it in a compassionate way, it may be a little bit challenging, but it often has the outcome of being so much better for you and for them and for your relationship overall.
Short and sweet today. That’s what I have for you on boundaries come on over to Grow You, and I will help you get really good at stopping people pleasing, which is part of becoming your own best friend. Setting boundaries from a place of love and getting really clear on when and how to do it. That’s what I have for you this week. My friend. I will talk with you next week. Bye, bye.
If you loved this podcast I invite you to check out Grow You my mindfulness community for moms where we do the inner work together. Head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching to learn more.