The boundary conversation can sometimes feel scary or uncomfortable. You have to voice your needs to a partner, employer, friend, or family member, and the reaction on their part can feel like an unknown.
It even applies to setting boundaries with yourself. Reminding yourself that your worth and well-being are a priority can feel selfish or self-centered. A reminder: it’s not.
A therapist in the past once told me when we were having a conversation about boundaries that “no one can care for you like you should care for yourself.” Something so simple has had a huge impact on my life and I try to reflect on it whenever I need to set a boundary.
The people around us cannot read our minds and it’s on us to let them know how we’re feeling. But it isn’t always easy, I’ll admit. One practice I’ve embraced is setting small boundaries that most wouldn’t even think are boundaries. These are simple limitations or needs that you can express that don’t require too much emotional bandwidth but can help you get more comfortable with larger boundary-setting in the future. It’s also a good way to begin setting expectations with the people around you who are used to your behaviour.
Disclaimer: This article isn’t to say to avoid larger boundaries; it’s always important to stand your ground, but this article is focused on the little things that can help alleviate pressure on your day-to-day.
1 – Setting notification schedules
If you have work-related apps on your phone or desktop that give you a little ping of anxiety when you get a notification after hours, you’re not alone.
Balance is so important and your time outside of work is yours and yours alone. Our phones have the means to schedule your notifications so that you can disable your work-related activities like Slack, Google Chat, Email, etc. to only go off during hours of operation. Unless your phone is provided by your employer, or you’re contracted to be on call, you have every right to snooze work-related content after you sign off.
2 – Simplify your reasons
I struggle with saying ‘no,’ and it’s been a process, but one thing I’ve embraced is that you don’t have to give detailed reasons to your answer.
Did a friend ask you last minute to hang out, but you’re not feeling up to it? “I can’t, sorry.” Is a good enough answer. No need to explain in detail why you can’t, or think of a complex reason. If they respect you and your boundaries, they’ll understand.
Taking time for yourself to relax and recharge is a completely valid reason to not want to go out or be with others. Relaxing alone is a plan just like any other!
3 – Taking personal days
Sometimes we just need a second to stabilize and recharge. That’s what personal days are for! Whether it’s with work, friends or family, taking some time for yourself on a regular basis can help.
It can also make you more comfortable with setting larger boundaries in the future. You take one day a month to get acquainted with yourself and can help you understand your needs in the long run.
I usually set a day in my calendar to remind myself of this commitment and after some time, the people around me now understand this need and some have even done it themselves!
4 – Turn that question mark into a period
Our tone plays a huge role in boundary setting. Communication is integral to creating a space to express your needs.
If you need to express a need that you don’t want to have to discuss further or you need them to understand clearly that this is a boundary, try framing the ‘ask’ without a question. For example:
- “I am working from home Friday” instead of “Is it okay with you if I work from home for X, Y, Z reasons”?
- “I’m going on vacation on X date, 6 months from now” instead of “Do you think it would be alright if I go on a vacation in 6 months from now?”
- “I cannot talk about this subject any more” instead of “Can we stop talking about this?”
This small tone shift can help articulate to the receiver that this is a statement, rather than a question. Of course, there may be some back and forth and negotiation, but drawing that line in the sand can avoid uncomfortable conversations.
These are just a few simple strategies that can help you begin to get comfortable with boundary setting. I hope you take these tips and apply them to your everyday life, and as always, if you need a safe space to vent, schedule a free vent session with our active listeners today.
Need to get something off your chest?
Book a free vent session today.