The B-Word: Boundaries
Why are boundaries so hard, especially for us as women leaders? Why do we say yes (when we really want to say no)? Why do we take on more than we know we have capacity for? Why do we show up based on how we think others want to see us instead of showing up as our most authentic selves?
Well because most of us were raised to be “good girls”, we were raised to never say no, disagree, make a fuss, or make it about you. We were raised to put the needs of the other person, the group, or the client first. And now as women, partners, wives, moms, female founders and executives, we’re used to attuning ourselves to the needs and desires of others. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — unless we have no boundaries. When we have no boundaries, we consistently give too much. Then we find that we’re exhausted, depleted, and upset for betraying ourselves yet again.
Does this resonate at all for you?
If this is you, you probably already know this, but we need boundaries.
Boundaries honor our needs, define the roles we play in every area of our lives, teach others how to treat us, and prevent burnout and resentment.
How to Start Setting Boundaries
So if you need some help setting some boundaries for yourself, here are three simple ways to start:
1. Recognize your feelings
Start setting boundaries by recognizing your feelings. When you behave a certain way, or work with a certain person or type of client, or do a certain thing, how does it make you feel? For example, every time you meet with one of your clients you find yourself giving away services for free. Then you feel angry with yourself afterwards. This is a clue that you need a boundary. Feelings like guilt, anger, resentment, and overwhelm often signal the need for a boundary.
Now you may not know exactly what you’re feeling, it just does not feel good.
Tapping into your feelings may require you to get quiet and listen to what your body and heart are trying to tell you. The more you ask yourself how you feel, the better you will become at listening to what deeply resonates with you. Also, the more you reinforce your boundaries, the more easily you recognize the behaviors, people, relationships, projects, and tasks that do not align with your core values.
2. Revisit your core values
Now, let’s re-examine your core values and uncover the beliefs you have based on those core values.
When we are operating outside of our core values and what we believe to be true, it’s incredibly uncomfortable and causes cognitive dissonance.
So here’s a little exercise:
- Start by identifying a core value that you have around your work as a leader and the beliefs that have stemmed from that core value. The first thing that comes to mind is the perfect place to start.
- Then ask yourself these quick questions
- Who did I learn this from?
- Is the core value in alignment with the life, career, and/or business I want to lead?
- Do the beliefs that come from that value support me or keep me stuck?
- Is the core value still true? If not, what is a new core value that feels relevant now?
- What could I believe instead to support myself and align with my new core value?
3. Catch yourself (when you slip)
Lastly, as you go about your work and your life, start catching yourself in the act when you’re slipping on a boundary. If you find yourself going back to your old ways, forgive yourself. Keep in mind your core values (or new core values) and beliefs then reinforce them in a way that feels good for you.
Remember, the more you reinforce your boundaries, the easier your boundaries will be to maintain.
Is your work-life forcing you to stretch your boundaries to no end? Discover the benefits of Executive Coaching here.