What emotions come up for you when you think about setting a limit or communicating a preference? Does it bring up feelings of anxiety or fear? Anger or frustration?
When you know you need to set a boundary with someone…would you rather avoid it at all costs and just deal (while silently resenting them)?
It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions when it comes to setting boundaries, especially when you’re new at it. Feeling your feelings is always OK, as long as you don’t let them get in the way of your right to have healthy boundaries.
If you think your emotions might be sabotaging your ability to express your preferences, desires, and deal-breakers, this episode is for you!
This week, I’m teaching you what you can expect once you start to flex your boundary muscles and giving you a process you can walk yourself through to better regulate your emotions so they don’t get the better of you or your boundaries.
If you’re like any of the thousands of clients and students that I’ve had over the past 25 years, you’re going to have a lot of feelings around learning to establish healthy boundaries in your life.
Talking true, being seen, and changing old behavioral patterns is a lot. You may feel exhausted, hopeful, and scared simultaneously. One day you might feel pissed that you’ve waited this long to do it and ready to go on a rage-filled boundary bender. The next day you might feel tongue-tied, guilty, or anxious because you’re not sure how the people in your life are going to react.
I want you to expect to have a mixture of feelings through this process. Being OK with feeling uncomfortable is definitely part of the winning formula when it comes to being a Boundary Boss. The good news is the more you practice, the easier it will be.
Here are some steps you can take to create a Proactive Boundary Success Plan:
1. Reveal the silent agreements in your relationships.
A silent agreement is an unspoken agreement or an assumed rule of engagement. Many times, this dysfunctional behavioral pattern starts in our family of origin, where there might have been certain topics that just were not discussed.
Get clear about any silent agreements you might be playing out in your relationships now. For example – you don’t rock the boat, you will not confront anyone, or you will not express anger or disappointment directly. For more on silent agreements, check out this video.
There’s a reason you are reticent to talk true and advocate for yourself. To change the dance, you’ve got to be willing to raise your awareness of current patterns and then take different steps.
2. Identify the feelings that are getting in the way.
Think through how you feel when you have to set a boundary with someone. I invite you to sit with the feeling and begin to normalize it. It’s ok to feel scared or anxious or even downright uncomfortable when we are learning new skills.
When it comes to boundary setting, you might have a fear of being rejected, falling out of favor with others, or being seen as selfish. If you are an empath, a people-pleaser, or have codependent attachments, it can be even more challenging. You might be a natural peacekeeper or conflict-avoidant and worried about how someone is going to react.
Pay attention to your feelings. Be mindful that forbidden emotions from childhood can be harder to identify and might be masked as something more acceptable. For example, in my home, it was unacceptable to express anger, so for years I unconsciously turned my anger into a more acceptable emotion, like sadness or depression. My anger was so threatening to me it took years in therapy to connect the dots and learn to honor my anger.
In the guide, I’m giving you some clarifying questions you can answer to help identify any forbidden emotions that might be sabotaging your ability to set healthy boundaries. You can download it here now.
All of your feelings are valid, and to become a successful Boundary Boss, you must allow yourself to feel them. Name the feelings when they come up and honor them.
3. Interrupt the thought/feeling/boundary behavior cycle.
There can be a cycle running on autopilot or how thoughts ? create feelings, and then those feelings inform our boundary behavior. Here’s what I mean by:
> You have a thought: “I need to have a conversation and set a limit.”
> The thought gives you a feeling: “Ughhh.”
> The feeling can drive you to avoidant behavior so you don’t end up having the conversation. Rinse and repeat.
Let’s pattern interrupt and practice creating a new mindful cycle by making different choices:
> You have the thought. “I need to have a boundary conversation.”
> Dial into how you feel. Be aware and mindful of how your fear mind is trying to trick you into not having the conversation. Sit with your feelings, name them and honor them.
> Self-Soothe. Take some deep breaths. Use your inner monologue to give yourself a Boundary Boss pep talk. You can tell yourself things like, “It’s normal for me to feel this way. I can do this. I can use the scripts and sentence starters from Terri. I got this. My relationship will be better for it. I have the right to be seen and heard.”
> Tap into your Proactive Boundary Success Plan! Make a plan of what you’re going to say and visualize it going well. If you’re struggling, you can even write it down and practice saying it out loud. Use clear, direct language.
> Have the conversation when you are calm, talk true, and set that boundary!
4. Institute the 48-hour rule.
Ok, you’ve set the boundary but now you might be feeling guilty or anxious, with a side of regret. You might feel like you want to take it back. What do you do now? My suggestion is to make a commitment to yourself to not take back anything for 48 hours.
If you wait 48 hours post-boundary setting, the likelihood of you wanting to take it back is usually about zero. Allow yourself to have a rollercoaster of emotions within the first 48-hours and be sure to self-soothe and take impeccable care of yourself.
The more you do it, the easier it gets. You’ll get to a point where you don’t want to take it back at all.
Commit to this new boundary-setting cycle, and I promise you, you will be creating a new emotional normal for yourself. You will be normalizing, making a simple request, prioritizing your preferences, and negotiating for your needs. The more often you go through the process, the less of a big deal it will be. You can be the Boundary Boss you were born to be, no matter how scary it might feel to you right now.
If you are ready to fully step in and would like me to personally walk you through this process, you’re in luck because I am teaching Boundary Bootcamp, my signature course, LIVE in September!!! All are welcome!
We’re getting started on September 22nd, so if you want to spend eight weeks transforming your life with the power of healthy boundaries, early-bird enrollment is now open!
I hope this episode added value to your life and gave you some tools to feel more confident and less afraid to set boundaries and talk true. I am right here fist-pumping and cheering you on and as always, take care of you.