© 2018 – Cindie Chavez
Boundaries and the reasons we set them are a conversation I have fairly often. This is because having strong boundaries will automatically allow you to experience more of what you want in your life, and less of what you don’t, and as a life and relationship coach my goal is to help people have better lives and relationships.
Most of the time these conversations come about because a client is experiencing things that they aren’t enjoying – and often because (almost always because) they are tolerating things they don’t want.
In the interest of helping you have more of what you want, and less of what you don’t, here’s an illustration that I’ve used with clients to help them set boundaries.
It’s a simple little story that is designed to help you get a better understanding about the how, why, and when of boundary setting. Here’s the story…
Mary works from home and usually finishes up her workday around 6:30 in the evening. Down at the bottom of Mary’s hill there is an eatery that she really likes to visit nearly every day for dinner. The little bistro has a sign on the door that says “We Close at 7pm”.
Mary often gets there at 7:10 or 7:15…yes, she realizes that she is a bit late, but if she knocks they come and unlock the door, greet her with a big smile and let her in. And then – they serve her something delicious! It’s a wonderful place!
If the above scenario keeps happening Mary will most likely feel free to keep showing up after closing time. Because, “Why not?”, she thinks, “They always open up for me (I must be special!)”
And behind the kitchen doors there is a lot of grumbling and complaining…because the owners and workers would like to be cleaning and closing up and instead they are preparing food for Mary. They are in that space of tolerating Mary’s late arrivals, over and over, and they are doing it with a big smile.)
(Here is a hint for you – are you grumbling and complaining about someone’s behavior? and maybe smiling the whole time?)
Even though the bistro has a sign that says they close at 7, they don’t hold to it – it’s a weak boundary and Mary doesn’t pay much attention to it.
Now…here is an important thing to recognize – it’s the intention the boundary is set with that makes a difference, as well as keeping the boundary strong by actually enforcing it. The restaurant owners have set this boundary (closing at a certain time) with the intention that it will help them create the life they want – (they want to be done with serving customers by 7, they want to finish up their work day and go home, they want to have time in the evening to have a life outside of their restaurant work). THESE are the reasons for creating the boundary – NOT to create a different behavior in Mary.
Healthy boundaries are set with the intention of providing us with more of what we desire, and not with the intention of changing someone else’s behavior.
Yes, if they stop opening the door when Mary arrives after 7:00pm she will probably stop arriving late, because she won’t be getting what she is coming there for, so yes, her behavior will most likely change, but that is not the intention of a good boundary.
In fact, if I set a boundary with an intention to change someone else’s behavior, the boundary won’t really be able to serve me, because I’ve just attached the happiness/comfort/safety/whatever I’m trying to create (the success of my boundary) to someone else’s behavior, which is something I cannot control.
In our example above, if the intention is to get customers to stop coming after 7:00pm, then every time a customer knocks on the door after 7:00pm the owners will feel frustrated that their boundary has failed. However if the boundary is created to protect their time/space/energy after 7:00pm so they can use that time as they choose (cleaning and closing the restaurant and having a life) then they have succeeded.
Our boundaries must be set (and made strong by our willingness to uphold them through action) with the intention that they supports us in creating the life we want. It then releases us from tolerating something that we don’t want.
The number one reason to create a boundary is to support you in getting your needs met. Because when your needs are met (physical, emotional, financial) your life works better and you feel better.
When we have weak boundaries all kinds of things come into our space. Things that bother us, irritate us, harm us, frustrate us, annoy us. Then we proceed to “tolerate” these things.
In fact, tolerating things is the number one symptom that lets you know you have weak boundaries.
The intention we have when we set a boundary is so extremely important because intentions have power.
The outcome you really want to see plays a huge part in determining your success. And most of the time it is something below the surface, something unspoken, something you might have to dig around to find. (OH! So you want him (her, them, it) to change? Well then, no wonder you’re struggling!)
Here are a few tips to support you to create strong boundaries, with the intention that taking these ideas into consideration will give you a much better chance of success.
1. Know why you want to create a boundary, and what you want to create ultimately (remember, your boundaries are about YOU getting YOUR needs met, they are NOT a tool to get someone else to change their behavior.)
2. What are you tolerating, and what would you like instead?
3. Know what you will do to make your boundaries strong – a boundary needs to be more than just an idea, and more than just verbal, there needs to be action involved.
4. Know what you will do if the boundary is crossed or tested (because I guarantee it will be – put a fence around a playground and some kids will always play right next to the fence, and possibly at least one of the kids will jump over it).
5. Choose these things wisely; create your boundaries only as strong as you are willing to keep them.
Your boundaries are there to serve you, not to change someone else. Setting boundaries is an act of self-love.
Cindie Chavez is known as “The Love & Magic Coach”. She is the creator of MOONLIGHT™ – A Course in Manifesting Love and she has some great free stuff for you at her website www.cindiechavez.com