In my work, people learn one of the first actions they need to take is to create boundaries, or as I prefer to say, standards for their life.
Most have no idea on what standards/boundaries to set for themselves—scroll down to see tips on how to do it.
Many of us struggle with this concept, because we’re so used to the position we take as a victim, blamer, rescuer, fixer, perpetrator, etc. and the sense of diluted power it gives us. Even though we may be unhappy with our stance, we stick to it out of fear. “Who will love us if we stand for ourselves?”
We’re usually just angry or fed up at some point and tell someone off or leave, then go recreate the same dynamic somewhere else. As much as a situation may bother us, we’ve a benefit from it; mostly it keeps us stuck in a belief about ourselves. The belief usually is about our value or worth: “If I don’t do this for so and so, they will not like or love me.”
We may see no other alternative than to continue to go along to get along. It’s too scary or difficult to start setting boundaries, which help us to become empowered and feel in control of ourselves. As much as we want to feel better, worry and guilt may take over and tell us we’re being selfish or mean.
If we are truly standing in our own power, it is neither self-serving nor mean; it’s basically saying yes or no to what we really want, based on what feels good and what feels bad.
If we feel good, all is in alignment within us and when we feel bad, it’s usually a sign that we’re either being influenced by our environment or not taking care of ourselves when it comes to others.
Being a nice guy or nice girl for the well-being of others is inauthentic; we’re doing it to get something, whether it is love, money or something to validate us. When we set our standards ,the playing field changes and we have to validate ourselves through how we say we now want to be treated. We must treat ourselves with this new-found respect and value first.
Setting standards means we state words and follow with actions for our own well-being. It may be difficult when someone doesn’t like what we’re doing, but if we don’t take care of ourselves in this way, who will?
Five tips for knowing what standards/boundaries to set for yourself:
- Place your awareness on how you feel when performing certain activities. See what feels good and what feels bad. Observe your emotions.
- Once you have awareness, notice where you complain the most. When you’re talking to your friends, what are you constantly saying about a person or situation?
- Write the complaints down—these are your keys to understanding where you allow people to trample over your unconscious boundaries. (When I feel resistance in me, I start writing, until it becomes clear through the repetition of certain statements, where I’m not taking care of me)
- Now take the complaints and see where you can take care of yourself.
- Set the standard, which shows self-care, love and support for you. It’s not to purposefully go against anyone, its to alleviate the feeling of sacrifice, resentment and anger in your life.
An example of setting a standard, would be if you’re always at the beck and call of someone else. Now is a perfect opportunity to see the cost of energy/stress/anxiety inside of you—how do you stop the cycle for you?
What makes you feel relaxed (besides the other person having to change?)
And how are you feeding the cycle?
Are you reluctant to state and put into action what feels good to you, because this person may be upset or leave you? (Even if it feels irrational to you, really get clear on why you do it)
Please let me know how standard setting works for you!
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Editor: Catherine Monkman