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Setting Boundaries for an Empowered Life

summer-photos-august-115Time flies, it’s already been a week since the last newsletter post.  Last week this newsletter outlined the first step to strengthen your personal foundation. When you strengthen the foundation of your life, it becomes a more sustainable structure for building the walls of your life.  As promised this week’s topic is one I have had to develop personally and have experienced with clients.  A lack of boundaries, are a toleration and by establishing some for yourself you will There are so many examples of how a lack of boundaries affects you that I would need to write a book.  Since most of us have a limited amount of time I will laser in on two of the most common.



Start by repeating this statement:


So the responsibility lies with you.  However, much of our lack of boundaries lies in your own beliefs, values and past, both socially and culturally.  Somewhere along our journey or path you have agreed to a set of rules that tell you we must behave in a defined way.

The good news is,you can shift your thinking; re-teach yourself and others how to treat you.  It begins and ends with taking a look at what you tell yourself.


When you say yes to something that isn’t truly coming from a place of love but of obligation, it’s a drain.  How soon people realize that you are the yes person.  After you say yes, then you revert verbally or silently to regret.  We say yes because of those invisible laws & rules we have crafted, that dictate “how you should be”.  Maybe you say yes to be accepted, or needed.

TIP: To break the cycle of saying yes when you mean to say no, is to delay your response.  Giving yourself time to check with yourself prior to committing is an effective way to do a little heart check.  Usually 24 to 48 hours does the trick.

Another reason for giving yourself this room to think is to begin to teach others how to treat you.  When you allow time to think before committing, you have time to check in with your motivation for saying yes.  Again, if by saying yes is for any other reason than pure joy or heartfelt helping, delaying allows for examining that invisible set of rules you have made.  Be aware of the profound reaction you will get from the other party who is doing the requesting.  It’s OK, change is good.  The delay model will be totally out of character for you but will soon be accepted if you make this transition consistent.  People will soon realize they must respect that you may not always be available, and  they will respect your boundary.  The result is you will be empowered, by taking back your time, its yours to have.


Over doing for family members or friends, who overly rely or who have become overly dependent on you can be a boundary-less situation as well.  Again, examining your list of invisible rules, the one’s you have made, would be the first order.

When you begrudgingly do for others what they can do for themselves, you may come to the conclusion that it’s about their lack of participation or their neediness, but is it?

If we overdo for others who are capable of doing for themselves, you teach them they aren’t capable.  You think you are helping, when in fact you are disenfranchising them.

Example: How one mother set a boundary

A college student goes out of state to school.  She discovers that her roommates are incompatible with her beliefs and expectations of how chores and groceries will be handled.  She contacts her mother multiple times a day with these complaints.  The mother tries to solve the problem by telling her what to do.  The next room mate problem arises, and the phone rings again, the same pattern of telling transpires, and this goes on and on.

The Mother believes she is helping her daughter to survive college life and feels good about being able to help.  Then the college student begins to realize that college isn’t high school and 100 word reports turn into 10 page reports.  The daughter now used to her Mother dropping everything to help, relies on her Mother to proof her papers. That would have been fine, except the proofing that the daughter expected her mother to do turned out to be a last minute affair, sometimes hours before the paper was due.  Again, the mother would drop whatever she was doing, but complained and argued with the daughter telling her this is not the way to complete her work, waiting until the last minute.

The mother proofs the paper, taking on the responsibility for her daughters lack of planning and for her pass or fail grade. The entire first year of college was a repeat of this pattern. Daughter calls, mother complains, does the work, daughter calls.

A boundary: Until… the mother decides that she’s solving her daughters problems and that this isn’t how she wanted their relationship to be.  The mother adapts a new policy (a boundary) and it went like this: ‘Lack of planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine.’

The mother agreed to proof her daughters papers, but only if they arrived one day for every page of the paper.  A ten page paper would need a 10 day advance arrival.

Outcome: The daughter became very resourceful and in the second year of college has sent zero papers to proof.  The daughter resolved her lack of planning and also found a journalism student to proof her papers. The mother realized that she taught her daughter to treat her this way, and realized that it was her own need to be needed that allowed this pattern of behavior to continue.  Both the mother and daughter became empowered.

When you set a boundary by deciding what is acceptable for you to do, and what things you would be joyful and happy to assist with, on your terms, you empower yourself and the other person.

Sometimes you overdo for others because you think it’s easier to do it yourself, than to make a strong request for the other person to step up. The result is mumble and grumble and you get upset at the other person. I would have to ask you, how does this behavior serve either of you?

REPEAT: I teach people how to treat me.

Setting boundaries starts with a look at questioning the shoulds of your life as well as your list of rules you’ve made up for yourself, typically coming from past experiences, teachers, parents, cultural and societal. If the rules fit you and you aren’t grumbling, keep your list. If not, it’s time to write a new one.


1. Say no at least once between this week and next, use the delay tactic if needed, for anything that is not done out of sincere joy.

2. Choose one thing you are presently doing for someone else that you are grumbling about and that they can do for themselves.  Have the conversation, or policy about your new boundary.  Don’t give in.

Next weeks Newsletter will cover BOUNDARY SETTING: Part Two

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