Teaching People How to Treat You: Why Boundaries are a Beautiful Thing

Sometimes things can feel really,really hard.

It‘s not easy to say no to all of the people who are endlessly asking for your time. There are so many worthy causes in need of support, exciting projects that stir your interest, and intriguing coffee invitations with people just wanting to connect.   

It’s uncomfortable to stand up and excuse yourself from conversations where women are disparaging other women. Because as the saying goes, if they do it with you, they’ll definitely do it to you.

It can be unsettling to leave texts unanswered, emails unopened, and instant messages unreturned – even for just a few short hours. You know only too well how YOU feel when you see the “read” notification and there’s radio static on the other end.

It’s painful to let go of relationships, even when they no longer nourish, serve, or strengthen you. Whether it’s the friend who takes more than she gives, the colleague who threw you under the bus, or the client who never appreciated the extra mile – goodbye, farewell, and “unfriend” always hurt.   

It can feel downright excruciating to start charging what you’re worth. I get it. Your throat closes, your skin prickles, and your heart quickens at the mere thought of increasing your rates, asking for a raise, or declining those requests to “pick your brain.”

And yes, it can feel unbearable to stand your ground, speak your truth, and stay the course.  

But we need to find a way to do it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

LIMITS Are LIBERATING

In the absence of healthy limits, we become resentful, depleted, dark-hearted people. 

When we consistently deny our dreams and desires in service of the needs of others, we deprive the world of our most meaningful contributions.

When our deepest values, precious time, and physical wellness are not fiercely protected, we descend into a state of regret, despair, and inauthenticity that feels heavy and unyielding. 

When we neglect to soothe and heal our bodies with sufficient rest and renewal, our light dims and our vision blurs. Unconsciously, we start to view the world through the muddied lenses of exhaustion, indifference, or anxiety.

When we fail to honour our own capacities, we stand like a towering lighthouse on a deserted shore, calling in the ships of overwork, overwhelm, disrespect, and disregard.

We broadcast a blaring and blinding signal to the universe, along with the people who live in it, that we just don’t matter all that much. 

Unfailingly, they will respond in kind.

While it may seem counterintuitive, putting limits in place in your life is actually a very loving and liberating act.

When we don’t set and stand by uncomfortable boundaries, our most important needs go unmet. This can lead to frustration and depression, along with a whole host of other chronic and compulsive behaviours, including overeating, addictions, perfectionism, and perpetual people-pleasing. 

Boundaries preserve the sacred white space for planning, playing, creating, dreaming, and doing the things that are most important and fulfilling. 

They unshackle us from obligations and expectations that weigh us down.

Staying firmly planted in our integrity, and out of bitterness and resentment, enables us to show up much more fully in lives of the people we lead, love, and serve. 

We Teach Others How to Treat Us

Boundaries are heartfelt and very honest expressions of our beliefs and choices, our wants and wishes, and our desires and decisions.

Boundaries are the calling cards of respect. Inside and out.

Having the courage to set boundaries is about daring to love ourselves, while also declaring to the world that our worthiness is not contingent on the approval of others.

What you believe about yourself and how you treat yourself sets the standard for the response you invite from others. 

People learn how to treat you based on what you accept from them.

Building Love-Painted Fences

Good fences don’t only make for fantastic neighbours, but also for phenomenal lovers, friends, family members, colleagues, clients, and bosses.

Here are a few loving, low-key suggestions to guide you in stepping into the process of transforming your relationships with yourself and others:    

// Make time for self-care non-negotiable. Your health, wellness, sanity, and serenity should always be your first priority. 

// Stop answering non-urgent emails, texts, and messages at ungodly hours. Really, just stop. It sets a dangerous and unhealthy precedent in both your work and personal life. 

// Set prices for your services and stand by them. Imagine calling a plumber and saying, “I know you’re busy, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d give me 30 minutes of your free time to help me figure out why my sink is leaking all over my kitchen floor.” When you value what you do, others inevitably will too. 

// Don’t accept invitations out of guilt or obligation. If your enthusiasm and excitement aren’t genuine, declining is the kinder thing to do.

// Change your language and learn how to say no gracefully, and often. Consider apologies, excuses and long-winded explanations no longer required. Try something along these lines instead: “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I have prior commitments that day.”   

// Give yourself permission to let go of the people who are draining your reserves. Unfriend, unfollow, and unsubscribe with wild abandon.

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