Are your boundaries in place?

There’s been a lot of talk on the internet lately about boundaries.

When I first started teaching about boundaries, it wasn’t as common a subject as it is now. But then it seemed, as with any good thing, boundaries got overused.

We’ve all seen the emails with a blog post’s worth of text in an out of office reminder. That’s either very strong boundary-setting or over the top, depending on the reader.

I told my accountability partner last week that I’d be writing an article about boundaries this week. And then I read two blog posts on the weekend and two things personally happened to me.

I guess I’m meant to write this article.

The best way I know how to describe a boundary is that it denotes an imaginary line drawn where that person’s emotional stuff is on his side of the fence and your stuff is on your side of the fence.

Setting good boundaries requires you to be assertive, not aggressive, respect that things may not go “your way” and that’s okay, but that you have a choice as to how you will then choose to interact with the person.

For example, if someone speaks to you in a way that you find demeaning, the person who has good boundaries would perhaps tell that person, “when you shout at me like that, it makes me feel _____. If you do that again, I’m going to walk away/ put down the phone, etc” and then do it.

You can’t control the person’s behavior but you can control your exposure to it.

Here are two incidents that happened to me in the last 3 days:

Incident 1

city street

Three of us did group personal training sessions for two months last year until I pulled out. You’d think I’d enjoy the group interaction and I do… just not while personal training. I eventually realized that I need (and want) the trainer to solely focus on me – what I’m doing wrong, where I’m battling, encourage and support me 100%. When I pulled out, I decided that if I went back, I’d only do one-on-one sessions. That was my personal boundary.

This year my gym got a new personal trainer. I set my sessions up and arrived last week to find someone else in the session with me. I didn’t make a big deal seeing as it was our first session but it niggled at me until I checked with the trainer and yes, indeed, two other people would be joining one of my two weekly sessions, at a reduced rate for all of us, of course.

I sent one or two more emails on Monday mentioning that I’d booked her for that time first and when I got an email back, I realized this was going to be better spoken about in person. You can always tell these things!

When I went for my session that evening, I had a moment where I wondered if I want to be that person who makes a big deal about everything. Then I realized that this is important to me – getting fit and healthy is one of my biggest goals for the year – and I need to address this issue.

So I did. And it was totally fine. The other ladies are being moved to another day. Success.

Incident 2

I booked a 30-minute massage. I was early enough to be ready on the table on the half-hour. The therapist did the massage, her finishing routine and left the room. I looked at my watch – only 20 minutes had elapsed.

Again I had a decision to make. I didn’t like this therapist’s style – she seemed too rushed and in a hurry to get me done – so I probably wouldn’t go back since I go get massages for relaxation and nothing else. Should I still talk to her about the quick massage?

I’m a believer both that things get easier the more you do them but also that other things get more difficult if you let them slide.

I didn’t want to create a habit where I start shying away from dealing with things so I mentioned to her that the massage was actually only 20, and not 30 minutes. She was most apologetic and told me her watch is probably fast….. that wasn’t the issue for me. I wanted her to know and apologise, which she did.

Hopefully that’s all the boundary-setting I need for the next month or so.

Can you think of one or two circumstances where you feel your boundaries are being overstepped?

Check for the niggle inside of yourself and either deal with it, or choose to not let it bother you anymore if it’s inconsequential.

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Comments

  1. Love this post! This is something I need to address with myself!

  2. I had a couple of these incidents since the year started. (Some more serious than others). One major issue I have trouble to address is that people see kindness as a weakness. They tend to walk all over you and that puts you in a position you are not comfortable with. But the sentence: “You can’t control the person’s behavior but you can control your exposure to it” certainly changed my approach to handling these situations. Thanks Marcia for a lovely post.

    • Marcia Francois says:

      Can I tell you something strange, Lana? As I wrote that sentence, I thought it would resonate with a lot of people 🙂

      Kindness is definitely not weakness.

      Show them that you respect yourself by setting boundaries.

  3. Congratulations on your boundaries successes. I struggle w/ this and it is encouraging to read your experiences and how you handled them – thank you for sharing. And like Lana, I too appreciate your statement that “You can’t control the person’s behavior but you can control your exposure to it.” Well said and so true.

    Regards,
    Lisa
    Three Oaks MI, USA

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