Have you ever said, “I’ll start working out/meditating/eating better/going to bed earlier…” and didn’t follow through?
Where next week comes, and you’ve either forgotten about it or no longer feel like making the change?
If you experience this type of resistance and struggle to keep your word (to yourself and others), you are not alone. I was there in my 20s.
But it is a sign of disordered internal boundaries, which could be robbing you of potential.
In this episode, I break down the symptoms of having crappy internal boundaries and give you a 7-step process to kick resistance to the curb. Follow this process, and in time, you will reach your goals, feel better about yourself, and follow through on what you say you will do.
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
What Are Internal Boundaries?
Strong internal boundaries support our ability to keep our word, postpone gratification, and make healthy choices.
It involves developing the self-discipline to follow through, which results in knowing you can rely on and trust yourself.
Having strong internal boundaries can also lead to our dreams becoming reality.
The Time My Therapist Called Me Out
The therapist I saw in my 20s wanted to explore how I was not someone who kept their word (to myself and others), especially when it came to better self-care.
I kept saying I would cut back on drinking, and I did not. I made promises for later: I’ll eat better later. I’ll start exercising later. I was not keeping my word to myself.
I did not keep my word to other people, either. I over-promised and under-delivered. I would make plans with five different groups of people knowing full well I could only make it to one of those experiences.
My internal and external boundaries needed work.
During one session, my therapist said something that greatly impacted and embarrassed me.
I was telling her about being late to work because I woke up hungover, and how I called work and told them I had a flat tire. I got it together and was 45 minutes late, but I made it.
My therapist waited until the end of the session to comment on it. She said, “Okay, so today we established you are a person who lies.”
I was taken aback. Wait, what did we establish today??
But she wasn’t wrong.
I was lying to myself and others and not taking responsibility.
Why did I think it was okay to say I had a flat tire when I didn’t?
10 Signs of Disordered Internal Boundaries
Let’s shift the focus back to you: are your internal boundaries lacking in any way?
The following 10 questions will help you assess where your internal boundaries might need work and where they are strong.
- Do you proclaim you will change unhealthy habits, quit a bad relationship, or get out of a crappy job, and don’t follow through? Do you complain about these things without doing anything to change the situation?
- Do you frequently feel guilty, remorseful, or worried about saying or doing the wrong thing in any given situation?
- Are you easily swayed by someone else’s opinions, thoughts, judgments, or criticism? How much do their opinions impact what you think and how you feel?
- Do you have a loud inner mean committee endlessly making negative comments and assessments about you? These negative patterns are often so habitual we do not realize how dysfunctional, unhealthy, and abnormal they are.
- Do you find it hard to tap into your own intuition? Is there a lot of second-guessing?
- Are you indecisive? Do you ask family and friends for their thoughts on what you should do before making decisions?
- Do you set goals and abandon them within a few weeks? For example, do you begin a course and get through the first module, only to lose motivation?
- Do you find it difficult to speak your truth if you know others will disapprove or disagree?
- Did your parental impactors or primary caregivers break their promises to you, themselves, or each other? Were they people who kept their word?
- Were your parental impactors disappointed in how their life turned out or what they ended up doing? Did they dream big only to ‘give up’ on those dreams, maybe in service of having a family?
All of these things impact us. If you answered “yes” to at least half of these questions, your internal boundaries likely need some strengthening.
To get to the root of why you have difficulty keeping your word, download the guide and choose a few of these questions to journal about.
Why Is It Important to Strengthen Internal Boundaries?
Creating stronger internal boundaries is an investment in your potential. They allow you to see who you might become when you follow through for yourself and others.
You do not want to get to the end of your life and wonder what you could have been, done, or become… right?
Your life is meant to be lived. How you feel, what you want, and your dreams all matter.
Part of the reason we have trouble following through is resistance to change.
Getting over this resistance is major. It requires a willingness to be uncomfortable because change is uncomfortable.
But it is possible to create better habits and stick to them- people do it all the time. Why not you?
7-Step Process to Following Through + Strengthening Internal Boundaries
Here are the seven steps I recommend and have used with my therapy clients to kick resistance to the curb.
#1: Do Your Research
Want to change careers, get involved with running, or try a new hobby, like gardening?
Do your research beforehand. Do not spontaneously jump into it.
It is important to find out what is involved first. Ask yourself, “Does this fit into my life? Am I willing to do what is needed to be successful?”
Knowing what you are getting into will likely prevent you from being blindsided by challenges when they arise.
#2: Take Small Steps to Minimize Overwhelm
Has following through felt overwhelming in the past? Then take smaller steps.
I believe small steps are the foundation for real transformation and sustainable change.
I am not saying we do not need to make bold moves. Sometimes, we do.
But consistency is key in changing ingrained behaviors and patterns, and breaking tasks into bite-size actions makes it more likely you’ll follow through.
Daily or weekly checklists can also be incredibly helpful to keep you on track.
#3: Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Attitude
If you are either training for a triathlon or lying on the couch watching Netflix, this is an all-or-nothing attitude.
We may exclaim, “I am going to do all the things I can to get healthy!” one week, and by the next week, the new habit or goal is left to die.
Take a slow and steady approach instead. Again, consistency is key. If you want to get in shape, you do not have to run an Ironman or a marathon. You can simply commit to walking two miles three times a week and increase from there.
#4: Get an Accountability Buddy
Having an accountability buddy can make a huge impact on achieving your goals. It does for me.
My sister is my accountability buddy. Every morning, we text each other and choose a workout to do. (More often than not, we do a workout from Michelle Briehler, one of our favorites. She has a wide variety for all ages and stages.)
On the mornings when I don’t feel like doing squat, my sister texting me to ask what workout I plan to do actually motivates me to do it. And I work out about 6-7 times a week.
My sister also understands me. She will say, “If you are really tired, I did this great stretch and just a 15-minute jump on the trampoline.”
Something about having an accountability buddy leads me to success. I am also an extrovert- I like doing things with others and feeling like I am ‘in it’ with them. If you are similar, consider asking a close pal or someone with a similar interest/goal to be your accountability buddy.
#5: Visualize Success On A Daily Basis
The process of visualization is as old as time: the book Creative Visualization was published in 1978.
While some people refer to it as the law of attraction or manifesting, it does not change the fact your brain has power.
I like looking at it from a neuroscience perspective: your brain cannot distinguish between actually experiencing something or thinking about experiencing it.
Many years ago, a woman at my gym told me she could not stop hitting her golf ball into the lake.
I suggested she visualize hitting the ball over the lake and on the green throughout the day, especially upon waking.
She was skeptical it would work, but the next time I saw her, she said, “I am sure this was a fluke, but since visualizing the golf ball going over the lake, I have not hit my ball into the lake.”
Whether you subscribe to visualization as something powerful or not, there is no harm in trying it.
On a regular basis, visualize being successful by accomplishing your goal, whatever it may be. Feel the feelings of having completed your goal.
Of course, you still need to take steps toward your dreams, and I have a detailed process of how to do it in this blog post.
#6: Quiet Your Inner Mean Committee
When the going gets tough and you want to quit, you need to block out whatever your inner mean committee says to you and replace it with a loving voice.
Speaking supportively and kindly to yourself can positively influence how you feel about yourself and life in general.
If we are to create happy lives, we must be our own beloved. Treating yourself like your beloved will help counter your inner mean committee, too.
#7: Take Responsibility
Most of what occurs in our lives is a direct result of our choices. Not everything, of course, but there is a lot within our control.
When you take full responsibility for your actions, you take agency over your one and only amazing life.
Taking responsibility is a powerful, radical act of self-love.
If you feel motivated, there are many choices you can make right now to increase the quality of your life.
Yes, some things will remain outside of your control, but I encourage you to focus on what is in your control.
I hope this episode gave you a loving kick in the tush to get moving. 💕
Inside the guide, you will find a recap of these seven steps so you can think more deeply about applying them to your life.
P.S. The Boundary Boss Workbook is available for pre-order right now! I am still a new author, and we need to show bookstores you guys care about boundaries and my work. The best way to show support is to buy a bunch of gifts for people for the holidays and have them all be The Boundary Boss Workbook. 🤣 Go to boundarybossworkbook.com for all the details, including the three bonuses available until October 31!
Thank you for spending time here. I hope this added value to your life. If it did, please let me know- drop a comment below or tag me on Instagram (@terricole) as I love to hear from you, and as always, take care of you.