I’ve been helping clients with assertiveness and setting and maintaining boundaries for over eight years. Even so, whenever I have to set boundaries and say clear ‘No!’s in my own life, there’s a part of me that wishes I didn’t have to tell people what should be so blatantly obvious.
When you think about boundaries, are you (like me) someone who regularly feels irritated (or worse) at having to be firmer with people who are overstepping in various ways?
When others are intruding, are you able to express your needs and wants in a clear, adult way saying something like, ‘When you do ___, I feel ___. I would appreciate your doing ____ instead…’?
Or (perfectly natural, if not the best approach when feeling threatened and taken advantage of in any way) do you over-react or (worse) beat yourself up for wanting respect and safety?
Who are you with / what are you doing when you feel that you have enough space and don’t even worry about your boundaries? How can you increase these feelings?
Apart from setting limits on what you agree to do for people, always checking in with your own needs and schedule first, play with physical space. Challenge yourself to not just think and talk about boundaries but to experiment with tangible lines.
Take a dance class or learn self defence. Notice how comfortable or uncomfortable you feel when in someone else’s space or when someone moves into yours.
Just knowing that your needs and wants are as valid as everybody else’s (and learning to be your own advocate, respecting others’ needs and wants without dismissing your own) will help you.
The clearer and stronger you are, the more playful you can become when people try to mess with you – both on and off the dance floor / crash mat. As you stand firmer, stronger and taller, you won’t need to keep asserting yourself.
Perhaps you’re the one who keeps getting strange, strangled looks from the people in your life, indicating that maybe you’re being intrusive with others?
If so, experiment with taking extra care. Give people more space. Check before taking things that don’t belong to you even if you think they won’t mind.
When you sense people pulling away, think about what you just said or did. Did that ‘fun’ comment about their recent weight gain or asking when they were going to have a baby feel like a little joke to them or would you have been better off holding your tongue?
Did you sit so close that they were falling off the sofa? Tread gently. A smidge more thought may thaw some relationships that had become frosty in an effort to create a little space.
And if you need some support (in either direction), please get in touch – I’d love to help you.
Find out more about Eve’s counselling, coaching, EFT, NLP and other services at www.wellbeing-at-work.co.uk