Finding Freedom in Your Boundaries

Setting boundaries for yourself with colleagues, family members, or friends can sometimes feel heavy, selfish, stressful, or even harsh; however, clarifying your boundaries first to yourself and then to others can actually relieve stress, lessen “overwhelm,” reduce drama, and keep you from feeling like you should be doing something you’re not.

I once had a professional colleague who I helped with a project free of charge because they were just starting out and the initial request was small. Over time her questions became larger in scope, more frequent and more urgent. I found myself stressed by her calls and overwhelmed with the work required to help her.  The drama she had with her clients became my drama, and I began to resent and avoid her.

In the end, I realized my feelings and trouble had less to do with her and what she wanted and much more to do with my lack of clear boundaries for myself.  Ignoring the small initial nudges from my internal guidance system only led to larger feelings of frustration and stress. Delaying the clarification of my boundaries only prolonged the angst. In the end, I still had to set them.

I’m careful about what I claim as a true non-negotiable, but for those I do decide to set, I know that it saves me time, stress, and drama to be clear, firm, and upfront about them with the people in my life. Personally, these include time each day to take care of my own well-being, an annual girl’s retreat, limits on how much news is broadcast on a daily basis at home, a meaningful trip with our grandchildren when they turn 16, regular visits with my grown sons, date nights with my husband, and time with my dad. Professionally, I’ve put limits on my monthly availability, daily start and end times, and how many speeches I can do in a month.

When things get busy, it’s easy to let your boundaries slip, and I always pay the price for allowing that to happen. When I’m clear and courageous in communicating my boundaries to my family, friends, clients, and colleagues, I find freedom—freedom from drama, stress, overwhelm, and feeling like I’m living someone else’s life or agenda.

This week, set or reset some boundaries with yourself and then with the others in your life. There is relief and freedom waiting for you within them.

“Walls keep everybody out. Boundaries teach them where the door is.”

~ Mark Groves

Leave a Comment