Have you thought much about the boundaries set around you? Did you set them? Did someone else set them? True, some of our boundaries are influenced by parents, friends, religion, politics, society. But even though there are outside influences, whatever become your boundaries are determined by you. The question is: What have you done to set firm boundaries? Anything? Do you even know how? Or perhaps you would rather slide along with the wishy-washy approach. Here are a few suggestions regarding boundary setting.
1. One can only set boundaries for self. You cannot set limits for another person. Do not even try. Waste of time and invites argument.
2. Figure out your boundaries ~~ personal, marital, business, social, ???
3. When someone asks for help or whatever or ‘you need to do this for me,’ analyze how the request fits your boundary decisions.
4. If the request fits your boundaries, give help.
5. If the request does not fit your boundaries, say “No” or “I will not do that.”
6. The only way to make boundaries work is to be FIRM! “No” means No! If you cave, you either have not correctly set boundaries or, more likely, you fail to be firm with your limits.
7. Often (usually most often), as soon as you say “No,” the question from the requesting party becomes, “Why not?”
8. Most people will then attempt to explain the reason(s) for “No,” or for “I will not do it.” They will give a list of because, because, because statements.
9. Falling prey to explaining your reason(s) is THE BOUNDARY TRAP.
10. We explain because we hope the requesting party will understand and accept. Sometimes (seldom), they do accept. We want to be reasonable. We want them to understand. But guess what?
11. For every reason a person gives to justify the “No,” answer, the requesting party responds with: “That’s not a good reason.” Or “That does not make sense.” Or some other reason that your ‘because statement’ is not correct, not acceptable. The requesting party is NOT interested in your reasons. Giving your reasons is a waste of time. The requesting party only wants what they want, and your “NO” is in the way. So, the requesting party attempts to help you understand the reason your “NO” does not hold water.
12. Therefore, the only way to survive is to give no reasons. They will ask, but you must continue to reiterate that you have decided what you will do and that what they want is not something you will agree to do. Do not fall prey to providing specific reasons.
13. The requesting party will push, but you must stand firm, giving no ‘because’ statements. Just reiterating that is not what you are willing to do. Period.
14. Be nice. But be firm.